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Cor Blok

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Third and final of my three ‘Share the Love’ posts today is for Cor Blok and his amazing illustrations for Lord of the Rings.

Fifty years ago, shortly after The Lord of the Rings was first published, Dutch artist Cor Blok read the work and was completely captivated by its invention and epic storytelling. The breadth of imagination and powerful imagery inspired the young Dutch artist, and this spark of enthusiasm, coupled with his desire to create art that resembled a historical artefact in its own right, led to the creation of more than 100 paintings. Following an exhibition at the Hague in 1961, JRR Tolkien’s publisher, Rayner Unwin, sent him five pictures. Tolkien was so taken with them that he met and corresponded with the artist and even bought some paintings for himself. The series bears comparison with the Bayeux Tapestry, in which each tells an epic and complex story in deceptively simple style, but beneath this simplicity lies a compelling and powerful language of form that becomes more effective as the sequence of paintings unfolds.

These are a really refreshing take on Tolkien’s work, and much closer in style to Tolkien’s own illustrations for the Hobbit. I love the current Peter Jackson movies, and the artwork of John Howe and Alan Lee but their more realistic depictions have come to dominate the genre lately. These are a nice step back in time, and retro is what we love here in Tower of Ur. Kind of reminds me a bit of Tove Jansen’s Moomins illuutrations.

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