Monday, January 28, 2019

TOLKIEN: Maker of Middle-earth at The Morgan: Review By Polly Guerin

Dust Jacket Design for The Hobbit, April 1937
"In a  hole in the ground lived a hobbit." With this simple phrase Oxford Professor John Roland Reuel Tolkien, better known as J. R.R.Tolkien, ignited a spark in generations of readers. Tolkien's adventurous tales remain popular, taking on new devotees, even today, introducing all those "young at heart" to the rich history of Middle-earth.  Image Left: J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973). Dust jacket design for The Hobbit, April 1937, pencil, black ink, watercolor, gouache. Bodleian Libraries, MS. Tolkien Drawings 32 (c) The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937.
        From the children's classic The Hobbit to the epic The Lord of the Rings, the incarnation of these stories began quite simply as entertainment for his children who would be invited into their father's library in the evening to be entertained and beguiled as they listened intently mesmerized by the stories of hobbits and elves, dwarfs and wizards in a fantastic landscape of imagination. 
       If you missed visiting the magical world of Middle-earth, in the long, long ago, do not dismay. The Morgan Library and Museum has installed TOLKIEN: MAKER OF MIDDLE-earth, a new and quite marvelous exhibition organized in collaboration with the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Marquette University Libraries (Milwaukee) and the support of The Tolkien Estate, The Tolkien Trust, members of the Tolkien family and private lenders. The exhibition celebrates the man and his creation and is open to the public through May 12, 2019 with a collection of Tolkien material ever assembled in the United States.      
Smaug and Huts of the River Rates/J..R.R. Tolkien top right
With favorite Tolkien images, re-configured in larger-than-life-scale on walls inside the exhibit they also cover the fairy tale entrance archway that welcomes visitors into the Middle-earth.  The 117 rare objects on view including family photographs and memorabilia, as well as Tolkien's original illustrations, maps, draft manuscripts and designs related to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Right: First image J.R.R. Tolkien Conversation with Smaug, July 1937, black and colored ink, watercolor, white body color, pencil. Bodleian Libraries, MS. Tolkien drawing 30 (c) The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937. Second image: J.R.R. top right corner. Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft -elves, July 1937, watercolor, pencil, white body color. Bodleian Libraries, MS. Tolkien Drawings 29 (c) The Tolkien Estate Limited 1937.
Father Christmas
Colin B. Bailey, director of The Morgan said, "The exhibition provides a rare look at Tolkien's artistic output that was wide-ranging, experimental, naturalistic and abstract. This exhibition helps us see what was so extraordinary and universally appealing about Tolkien's gifts as a storyteller and his ability to combine the scholarly with the artistic.  The show presents an intimate look at Tolkien's world through his handwritten and drawn works. We are grateful to the Bodleian Libraries, The Tolkien Estate and The Tolkien Trust." Image Left: J.R.R. Tolkien's Father Christmas drawing of "Me" and "My House." 1920, watercolor, white body color, silver powder, black ink. Bodleian Libraries, MS. Tolkien Drawings 38 (c) The Tolkien Estate Ltd. 1976.
       Visit for a list of Public Programs, Symposium, Family programs and the details for the Party to celebrate everything Tolkien and his great works where costumes are encouraged. Gallery Talks are given by John T. McQuillen, Associate Curator of Printed Books and Bindings. The book, TOLKIEN: MAKER OF MIDDLE-earth is available in the Morgan gift shop. The Morgan library and Museum is located at 225 Madison Avee, 212.685.0008. 
Ta Ta Darlings!!!  What an adventure, Tolkien's diverse and splendid oeuvre will leave you lost in
Middle-earth wonderland. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs for more insight and in the left-hand column click on the direct link to the Blog that may resonate with your interest.


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