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July 28, 2013
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The King's Councelor by TurnerMohan The King's Councelor by TurnerMohan
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."

--The Silmarillion

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)

See also:

Sauron (1st age)…
Numenorean Queen…
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Ragnarok6664 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Words that bring down man..
dead-lovers Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2014
This is fantastic.
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2014
 Master Mohan, admiration compels me to admit that this is the best version of Sauron as The Deceiver that I have yet seen and makes me wonder how you would illustrate him in his days as 'The Lord of Gifts' (while he was pulling the wool over poor Celebrimbor's eyes, concerning the precise degree of his repentance if not over his identity); I can easily imagine him wearing the same Face ('facade' would be an equally appropriate description), but suspect that he would be a little less cool and detached - not kindly in the least, but with less of an air of effortless superiority and more of camaraderie (like an elder brother amongst his juniors or a senior partner in the business of ordering the world anew … right before the hostile takeover so ably depicted by Mr Abe Papakhian in his 'Lords of the Rings').
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2014  Professional General Artist
I dont know about "not kindly in the least," he wouldnt be much of a deceiver if it took anything less than the keenest of the keen to be able to smell something rotten about him during his stint as Annatar. At the time he is depicted here he has already weened the numenorean king and people on to evil to the point where they are openly performing human sacrifices to morgoth and planning war on the valar, so i thought that more an air of mysterious, all-knowing divinity would be his mode here, not "good" in the traditional sense (sauron probably having by this point successfully condemned old notions of good and evil in the minds of the numenoreans as narrow-minded and slavish) but possessing the unfathomable, and therefore unquestionable, authority of his wisdom and divine power. That is not, however, how i see him when dealing with celebrimbor. Eriador and the lands beyond at the start of the second age must have seemed a vast world to the eldar freshly uprooted from beleriand, likely to contain all manner of wonders, so it does not seem too surprising that, upon discovering some warm, benign maiar dwelling in middle-earth and professing love for it's people like Melian (or Tom Bombadil, who would have been discovered by the noldor at around that time) they would take that story without too much reservation or cause to doubt it.
Libra1010 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2014
 Especially when they themselves had good reason to question the efficacy of hasty judgements and unswerving adherence by them, as poor Celebrimbor himself had good cause to given his own tragic family history - I must agree that when Sauron put on his fair face and most pleasant manners it would take a keen eye like Galadriel's to seek out his underlying selfishness (I fear that I have bored you with this mental image before, but I always imagine there being something FELINE about Sauron, which I think could go quite well with your own ideas about his somewhat androgynous aspect of his fair form - think a Siamese cat, which is very pretty and superbly elegant and can be extremely charming … right up until it present the broken body of a songbird or you see it playing with a mouse for sheer devilish amusement).

 Here's one of my favourite depictions of The Lord of Gifts at his most benevolent, by the way! the creator's gallery is worth looking through in it's own right, although please be aware of shipping in the vicinity! (not my sort of thing, but to each their own).…
mephetti Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Absolutely love your design of Sauron here! Great work! :) I really need to read the Silmarillion soon...
Ekonk Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I want you to know that this is the best interpretation of Sauron I've ever seen. It really stuck with me. I read some LOTR a couple of days ago and this is the image that came to me when reading his name.

Absolutely phenomenal work on both characters.
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014  Professional General Artist
and I want YOU to know that that's about as good a compliment as I could hope to hear for a piece of mine. i'm very glad to know I was able to contribute something to a fellow fan's mental image of middle-earth, makes me feel good about putting up my work!

thanks for the lovely comment, brightened my day
Cyrusma Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013
absolutely beautiful !
ElrondPeredhel Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2013
Your vision of Ar-Pharazôn as an athlet and kind of a vain person please me a lot (haven't I already said that ;) ). It remembers me that Meneldur is said in the Tale of Aldarion and Erendis to care more about cerebral stuff, after him begins the decay. Aldarion is from a different kind than Ar-Pharazôn, he cares about boats and seas, but that's still more concrete than philosophy and astronomy like his father. I think Numenoreans became more and more materialistic. Some kings are attracted by gold or Mithril, some by lands, but in fact they are just trying to run away from death.

I definitely love your Sauron ! The clothing is perfect, evilish and all ! Gosh I love it ! :D
I was thinking to your Sauron (don't remember if you said it or if I made that up) as an ivory living statue. Cause Sauron is something behind Men and Valar, like ivory is both mineral and biological in a symbolic way. And I imagine the Valar as taking mineral or metallic shapes, like a Manwë all in marble, Aulë maid with Iron, Tulkas with Bronze, Ulmo with water, etc..
In this way Morgoth would be an obsidian living statue. Cause it's black firstable, but also cause it's a material coming from volcano, basically burnt rocks, so it recall that Morgoth was once a God of light and fire ! And to complete this idea : the Meneltarma is seen as a volcano, and the Stone of Erech, looking a lot like obsidian, is often seen as a part of the Meneltarma. So could you imagine this huge statue of Morgoth in the Temple, sculpted directly from the stone of the Meneltarma ? Just an idea but in all honesty I think it's awesome :P

You remember us doing this back and forth about the similarities between Amandil and Ar-Pharazôn in the Akallabęth and Moses and the Pharaoh in "Prince of Egypt" ? I just found on "Tolkiendil" (the main french forum about Tolkien) a topic with some very interisting ideas. The main one is the similarity between the text of the Akallabęth and the text of the Exodus in the Old Testament. A member especially noticed those quotes from the Bible and from the Silmarilion :

Exodus 4:21 :

And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I WILL HARDEN HIS HEART, that he shall not let the people go.

Silmarilion, Akallabęth :

In those days the Shadow grew deeper upon Númenor; and the lives of the Kings of the House of Elros waned because of their rebellion, but THEY HARDENED THEIR HEARTS the more against the Valar.

Then some few would repent for a season, but OTHERS HARDENED THEIR HEATS, and they shook their fists at heaven, saying: 'The Lords of the West have plotted against us. They strike first. The next blow shall be ours!' These words the King himself spoke, but they were devised by Sauron.

Then Ar-Pharazôn HARDENED HIS HEART, and he went aboard his mighty ship, Alcarondas, Castle of the Sea.

This joined to the similiarity of naming between "Ar-Pharazôn" and "Pharaoh" and the huge similarities of plot make the Akallabęth a rewriting of the Exodus at least as much of the Myth of the Atlantid. Sauron is the main original element though, with the lack of ethnic opposition present in the Bible.

To finish, that's at the side of it but I wanted to tell you. In Aldarion and Erendis there is a sentence were it's said that Numenoreans were wood-crafters mostly at the time of Aldarion (it's obviously suggested that it became different later) despite being teached about stone-craft by the Elves (which means that the Edain are traditionnaly wood-crafters).
Which leads to this conclusion on wood and stone in ME :

-> First Age :
Wood crafters - House of Hador, Haleth and Bëor ; Avari and Tatyar ; House of Bor.
Stone crafters - Noldor ; Sindar ; Dwarves
"Iron crafters" - Morgoth realms.
Nomads - House of Uldor

-> Second Age :
Wood crafters - Men of ME ; Nandor ; Early Numenoreans.
Stone crafters - Noldor & Sindar ; Dwarves ; Late Numenoreans ; People of the Mountain (due to the Path of the Death built in the Stone).

-> Third Age :
Wood crafters - Rohirrim ; Beornings ; Rhovanion ; Lorien ; Dunlendings (?) ; Woose.
Stone crafters - Gondor & Arnor ; Bree ; Dale ; Noldor & Sindar ; Mordor.
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