The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Editor(s): Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull.
Publisher: William Morrow.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: September 18th, 2012.
Pages: 144.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Art.
ISBN13: 9780547928258.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.


What is The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien about? To celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit, this fully-commented art book collects writer J.R.R. Tolkien’s complete artwork related to the beloved classic. In fact, J.R.R. Tolkien drew illustrations to accompany his story when it was still just a manuscript. Initially, ten black-and-white pictures, two maps, and binding and dust jacket designs created by himself were published with the book. He was also invited to paint five scenes for colour plates. With editors and Tolkien experts Wayne G. Hammond and his wife Christina Scull, also considered a veteran of Tolkien’s work, this book presents these pieces of art with related pictures, sketches, drawings, paintings, maps, and plans, giving readers a broader understanding and vision behind The Hobbit.

The editors behind this neat collection magnificently reconstruct the story of The Hobbit through a succinct commentary that allows readers to revisit the adventures of Bilbo Baggins while mostly focusing on writer J.R.R. Tolkien’s original illustrations. With each illustration, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull also reveal the inspirations behind several of the author’s drawings, oftentimes pertaining to personal adventures or referring to other artistic work that left a lasting impression on him when he was still working on his fantasy stories that are considered impactful and unparalleled classics within the fantasy genre. Even more gripping is the inclusion of countless details that could easily be overlooked by an inattentive admirer of J.R.R. Tolkien’s artwork, revealing the little references to the author’s beautifully descriptive world, such as legendary artifacts or subtle inscriptions alluding to key characters.

Once more, similar to Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien, the larger format on thick paper allow the editors to showcase the author’s artwork with ideal dimensions and colours. As mentioned in their introduction, these drawings are reproduced as large as possible without distortion but in some cases, some sketches are purposefully darkened to allow readers to better observe the faint pencil work. Considering the cost-efficiency logic that used to dominate the printing trade back in the day, this volume also helps better understand the differences between line-block and half-tone processes and the challenges faced by J.R.R. Tolkien in conceiving some of his drawings for printing. What’s even more fascinating is the evolution in concept, showcased through several consecutive sketches which sometimes required double foldout pages, giving readers a better understanding of the work put into conceiving these pictures.

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit will surely find joy and respite in revisiting his masterpiece through this art book, discovering brand-new details of a universe that I simply can’t get enough from. While the four-colour illustrations, like Rivendell or Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Ralft-elves, are some of the most mesmerizing pieces, even the sketches that barely show anything are intriguing in their own rights. Ultimately, only those curious about his artistic style and concept ideas will find this read rewarding. Others will probably prefer adding this book to their collection once discounted or first give it a shot with a library copy. Nevertheless, this remains another wonderful exploration of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world without his traditional story-telling to accompany it.

The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is a fantastic and delightful collection of the professor’s original artwork for The Hobbit with insightful and alluring commentary.



21 thoughts on “The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. I am definitely leaving this all for you 😀
    While I am “trying” to increase my appreciation for art, I think a whole books’ worth is too big a mouthful for me. I’ll start off with teensy tiny little bites….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hehe, are you on a mission to pick up everything Tolkien related? Whereas I do enjoy looking at maps, I am not sure I would buy a book just for its artwork. I used to own an illustrated version of LOTR, which was beautiful, but it must have been eliminated in one of my Marie Kondo frenzies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d mentioned to you in the other post about how some of these were familiar to me, especially the one with the raft-elves, and I finally did a little looking to discover many are in the green hardbound and slipcased copy of The Hobbit. Granted, in that one you have to flip through it to find them as they’re scattered throughout the book.

    I’m becoming increasingly interested in these 2 art books you’ve shared. I strongly suspect they’d be right up my alley. I’ve found his original drawings and artwork, and that of some of the very famous artists who’ve regularly illustrated his work, have a way of pulling me right back into the story each and every viewing. Granted, I love imagining the scenes myself through just his words, but it really is nice to also see others interpretations, especially those of Tolkien, himself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, that must be the 1973 edition of The Hobbit! A precious thing of beauty! 😀 Glad to hear that you were able to find where you discovered those illustrations first.

      I honestly think you’d appreciate these behind-the-scenes looks at the writing process, Todd. I have a third art book to be reviewed this month that would also complete the more “must-have” editions of these Tolkien-related art books that could also intrigue you too. I too prefer imagining the whole thing through his writing but these art books (the editors) do a nice job of citing those original parts of the stories to help us understand how Tolkien wrote them, saw them, and drew them. Sometimes, the drawings don’t really coincide with what he actually writes too.


  4. I’ve got a book with the other artist concepts that went into later editions of the books and there are a couple of these by Tolkien, but Hammonds book sounds like a real treasure trove. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Lashaan.

    Liked by 1 person

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