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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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Greenhatman Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2014
You did an extraordinary job portraying Ar-Pharazon as a frustrated, frightened and proud man who's only just realized that he's past his prime.  Despite all he does and what he became, you can't help but feel a little sorry for him here based sorely on his expression, body posture, and clenched fists.  Sauron himself, too, is extremely well done, both with that amazing outfit and his expression of reassurance, yet there's something sinister about it.

Outstanding work!
Gurmegil Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014
@ small notes in your description, the art is perfect :) (Smile), Sauron did in fact bear the ring to Numenor and the Ainur are described as having an unchangeable inner gender. But other than those small points I love it!
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
i'm glad you like it! yes i know that the ainur have inherent genders. when i said that gender seems an arbitrary and optional flourish for them, i meant more by the standards of men or other creatures who are entirely locked into their physical forms (atleast while alive) whereas the valar and maiar can appear as forces of nature like waves or mountains, or not appear at all. it seems fitting for sauron, this constant deciever, shape shifter and kind of satanic tempter figure, to appear androgynous and even a bit submissive (in the classical art sense) beside this proud, strong, hyper-masculine king of men. as for the ring that's a subject of considerable debate, albeit between the implication that he left it in mordor in the silmarillion ("took up again his ring") and the letter in which tolkien flatly states that he had it with him in numenor. i tend to give myself (and everyone else) a break when it comes to alot of tolkien's little annotations though; he also clearly states, for example, that gollum wears clothes, but i don't really blame anyone for throwing that to the wind.
Zireael07 Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
This is excellent!
Maccyjoe Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Awesome drawings!
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.
TurnerMohan Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2014  Professional General Artist
thanks :)
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.
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