"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…
Your Sauron in this picture is amazingly spooky - your Classical sculpture-come-to-life seems mask-like in this scene. I really like that you also chose not to follow's Howe's 'spiky black' evil aesthetic - it's his words, not weapons, that wound Numenor.
ar pharazon seems like he has all the potential makings of a great, well loved leader of men like tuor or hurin. he's strong, brave, a good captain, and a bit of a showboat (never hurts) but in the context of the time he lived in he was the wrong man to be king (they really could have used another tar palantir)
i do feel sorry for ar pharazon, i feel like in a different time or place in the history of middle-earth he could have been a great king, but he was born into an already divided numenorean society, to a father who was also proud, greedy and irreverant of the powers in the west. plus he's being manipulated by basically an angelic being, that's too much for just about any human.
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).
thanks for the lovely comment, brightened my day
I definitely love your Sauron ! The clothing is perfect, evilish and all ! Gosh I love it !
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 ManwŰ all in marble, AulŰ 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
You remember us doing this back and forth about the similarities between Amandil and Ar-Pharaz˘n in the Akallabŕth 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 Akallabŕth 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, Akallabŕth :
In those days the Shadow grew deeper upon N˙menor; 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-Pharaz˘n HARDENED HIS HEART, and he went aboard his mighty ship, Alcarondas, Castle of the Sea.
This joined to the similiarity of naming between "Ar-Pharaz˘n" and "Pharaoh" and the huge similarities of plot make the Akallabŕth 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 BŰor ; 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.
i'd mentioned my concept of the ainur having this "living classical statue" look about them, but I dont think I'd brought up ivory (although it's certainly a good fit) as for the valar being elementally composed, manwe of marble, ulmo of water, aule of iron, morgoth of obsidian, I think it's a very cool concept (and whenever i picture ulmo appearing before tuor at vinyamar that's basically exactly what i picture) although, as I've discussed elsewhere (i've been under some pressure recently to take a stab at the blessed ones) it's nearly impossible to do a take on gods that could possibly live up to what written words on a page (and the reader's imagination) might conjure up, and I myself have never managed to come up with a picture of the valar that satisfies on all levels (nor have i seen anyone else do so) I think the Ainur are a little easier, because, though angelic beings, they exist (or atleast choose to appear) on something of a human scale.
The temple of morgoth is something i will almost certainly be attempting, when that comes around I will keep these ideas in consideration.
Thanks as alwys for the input!
and yes i think you've pretty much got it for the stone/wood builder breakdown
Not many things to add. We agree on most subjects but it's always fine to have this "back and forth" and to see how you formulate the things, your English seems really "litterate" to me but I haven't read enough classic english litterature to be sure.
What I like about this is he is a powerful tyrant and at the same time you can convey him
as being tired and frightened.
It was very important for me to steer clear of howe's aesthetic of wicked, neo-gothic spires and intricately segmented plate armor, they are absolutely beautiful, but they are so "spoken for" at this point (both by Howe's own work, and the movies) I liked to have sauron's clothes here perhaps not so different from clothes worn by in numenorean society at the time (like priests or philosophers or something, very Harad and Khand influenced) but drawn out, made, sharper, darker and more imposing, posessing more "authority" (sauron at this time seems to be fulfilling the role of the king's "pet demigod" able to reveal secrets about the world and the powers in the west, from an insider's perspective) while remaining subservient and adviser-like.
You seem to get perfectly what I was going for with Ar-pharazon, you said it better than i did about his being "angry and wrapped in fear and anxiety." I would guess that, like many generations of diminishing numenorean kings before him, he is getting old earlier than he expected, and feels purposely cheated by the valar, and by this unfair fate of men to die at all. the long numenorean decline before the drowning seems to be this viscious cycle of ever increasing pride in themselves and resentment and rebellion against the valar, resulting in increasing power and glory in worldly terms, but lessening wisdom and "grace" (as evidenced by shorter lifespan) It's a trend that the arrival of Sauron really kicks into third gear, because as you say, he's an immortal and a superior being, he's not playing fair (I wanted it to be a bit vague in the drawing as to whether sauron is actually physically behind the king here, or is more inside his head; I can see him working his sort of telepathic mojo night and day upon the mind of the king and the people) the power of the Ainur, if they are so inclined, to meddle in the hapenings of the world (either for good, like melian or for bad like sauron) is too great. their prescence and influence turns men into pawns. this is why I always loved that the five istari were sent to middle earth in intentionally humble forms, even by the standards of men (they even show up bearded and old) a case of the valar learning from past mistakes.
I'm glad to hear that it's not hard to guess what lies beyond where i decided to draw (and all your guesses are spot on) that's what I hope for when doing a drawing like this. needless to say there will be more on the way.
and yes you can call me Turner.
Glad I could introduce you to a piece of tolkien art that you hadnt seen before. "melian" may be my favorite piece of tolkien art period (atleast here on deviant, which is still saying alot) I think what's so brilliant about it is that she looks and feels so damn otherworldly; a real member of the blessed race, like she really does come from the same world as sauron or melkor or any of the ainur, and not "cloaked" like the later istari, but you can imagine her affecting the world and children of illuvatar with the same force and will as sauron here.
agreed on the excellence of the akallabeth, and how it encapsulates a lot of toliken's philosophy (some of his very best) and I'm glad (and very gratified) to hear that my ideas of sauron possibly not really being there were picked up on.
Oh and BTW, I love that drawing that you did of ar-pharazon, and am deeply flattered that you credited me as an inspiration (I wrote more on the drawing's page itself) you have a really nice style, and I think it's your best tolkien work (and not because it was partially inspired by mine, it just looks like you pushed yourself, and that classy nod to Titian )
to me middle earth seems, theologically, a brilliant mix of christianity and the varoius versions of indoeuropean polytheism; (which are related to eachother and brilliantly synthesized in the panteon of the valar; manwe is the typical "skyfather," he's very obviously zeus but he's also very obviously odin) lording over all you've got the judeao-christian "god the father" that came first and created the "children of god" but then, administrating his authority on earth and intermediating between him and his children, you've got this colorful pantheon of greek/roman/nordic-type gods, but they function as loyal and much-loved servants of the one true god, like the angels or saints in Christianity, or the "Loa" in Voodoo, rather than the oediphal young bucks of indoeuropean paganism who, in almost all versions, kill their father (ymir the giant in nordic legend, cronos/saturn the titan in greco/roman) and make the world out of his body. only melkor fits that role, of rebel against "the father," which in the abrahamic tradition in is reserved for lucifer the rebel angel. It's as if tolkien was trying to craft the theology/mythology that (while being first and foremost a chrisitan mythology) lies behind and makes sense of the misguided but well meaning mythologies of his pagan european forbears, who (going with middle earth terminology) have forgotten or never heard of illuvatar, but remember manwe and ulmo, and call them names like neptune or jupiter (you can imagine northmen like the Rohirrim, who may be ignorant of god, worshipping a version of the valar very close to the nordic gods)
your drawings may not look especially "realistic," but i think you've got a good way of conveying figures and details (like i said in my comment, your work reminds me of those medieval engravings that were always more about the details than the proportions) you can probably hone that style and make it more realistically proportioned, i think copying the poses used by the old masters is a great way to progress.
one of the things that makes it impossible to do a design for gods that will work and feel sufficiently "godly" is that in all mythology (including tolkien's) you've got this really illogical combination of gods operating on a vast, incalculable scale (like the valar making the world, or their first strife with melkor, as mentioned above, being an event of planetary, tectonic violence rather than orc armies in poorly made chainmail) and then on this really small, temporal, even human scale (melkor's the reason the world has clouds and winter snow but for some reason he cant destroy the trees of yavanna by himself, and apparently you can hurt him with a sword) pretty much with no rhyme or reason; tolkien talks about melkor loosing the ability to leave the body he has made for himself which, while an interesting concept, seems kind of shaky, and begs the question of "why in the hell dont the valar just go chain him up again?" generally, i find, when you start bringing gods into a story, things very quickly stop making much sense, this is really what keeps me away from illustrating the silm; large (and important) stretches of it are impossible to take as seriously as the events portrayed in the lord of the rings, or the akallabeth. it's all fantasy of course, but the stuff with the valar is just so much more transparently so (and between "thor" and the "clash of the titans" movies, i think we've yet to see any really satisfying presentation of the interaction of indoeuropean-style gods with eachother or mortals)
I've got some ideas cooking on how to do the valar; though at this stage, mostly those ideas center on who i'd draw inspiration from, as gods are such intangible things that i think, in depicting them, it's best to go a little "meta" and lean on the artists that have shaped people's visual perception of what gods look like (been looking at a lot of classical statues, michelangelo, and william blake (who i think will come especially in handy for melkor))
I think of gondorians (as do you and i think many people) as being "byzantine" mainly because of their time and place in history, relative to the (then) past numenor as the byzantine empire did to imperial rome, they're smaller, humbler, a shadow of former greatness, but percervering in the dark ages, and (significantly for tolkien) the gondorians, like post-roman-empire byzantines, or even moreso (for a catholic like tolkien) the post imperial romans (ascossiated in my mind with that "romanesque" style that defined church architecture all through the dark ages until the advent of the gothic style) are "faithful" unlike their sinful, imperial forebears (atleast in those increasingly corupted generations preceding the fall)
I tend to lean slightly more toward "romanesque" than "byzantine" myself when thinking about the 3rd age gondorians, of the two that was the catholic and more western branch of the inheritors of rome, and therefor feels more appropriate to gondor, although ofcourse both styles (which are very close as is) can be combined quite easily.