Study for a painting (famous last words)
"Thus Ar-Pharazon, King of the Land of the Star, grew to the mightiest tyrant that had yet been in the world since the reign of Morgoth, though in truth Sauron ruled all from behind the throne. But the years passed, and the King felt the shadow of death approach as his days lengthened; and he was filled with fear and wrath. Now came the hour that Sauron had prepared and long had awaited. And Sauron spoke to the King, saying that his strength was now so great that he might think to have his will in all things, and be subject to no command or ban."
I always envisioned the above passage as a specific scene: we see the king in his gymnasium, badly winded after a (loosing) sparring match; he angrily dismisses his trainer and attendants and sits alone, feeling the weight of his age and the creeping loss of his strength, a wound to his great pride. enter Sauron, like a shark smelling blood in the water, ready to make his long-prepared sales pitch. It seemed fitting for Ar Pharazon (who I've always imagined as this great physical presence, like Henry VIII in his prime, and quite vain) to be frustrated and resentful at the loss of his prowess as a fighter and athlete, and fear it as the first sign of his own impending death.
Sauron fell into place rather easily in this one, though it was hard to resist the impulse to "armor up" his clothing or to rely too heavily on the John Howeian "eeeevil" aesthetic of straight, upward pointing spikes (for my money, the Akallabeth presents Sauron at his absolutely most formidable; single-handedly orchestrating the destruction of Numenor and a sort of miniature 'fall from grace' for men, and doing it all without his vast armies or his terrible servants or even his Ring, just by pure Hannibal Lecter-style power of persuasion, so armoring him kind of sends the wrong message) I Imagined him here as he would appear during his turn as the Priest of Morgoth. His dark robes and head piece have a little bit of everything in them, Arabic, Turkish, Cambodian, ancient Egyptian, African, medieval gothic, and just pinch of HR Giger in that slightly skeletal folded array on his breast and weirdly elongated head. with sauron's "fair form" I always pictured this bone white (luminous even) face, beautiful and unfathomable, like a living ancient greek statue, emerging from this very tall, sweeping black-robed form, quite cool and androgynous beside the king's huffing and puffing masculinity (gender seems like a rather arbitrary and optional flourish for the Ainur)
Ar-Pharazon's pose took some doing to finally get right; tensed and angry, but also sagging and impotent in his anger. I wanted him to feel like an aged, over-the-hill boxer or wrestler (the ancient greek "Boxer of Quirinal" statue was an inspiration, as well as some pretty unpleasant recent beach pics of Hulk Hogan) right at that tipping point in mid-to-late-age when a man's physical strength begins to fail him (contrasted by sauron's consummate agelessness)
Another piece for the weekly tolkien sketchblog (I dont know why I've been on such a Numenor binge lately)
Sauron (1st age) turnermohan.deviantart.com/art…
Numenorean Queen turnermohan.deviantart.com/art…