Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Many Faces Of Bilbo Baggins: Part Two

The first picture of Bilbo, by Susan Greenwood Sweeton, is from a magazine ad for silk screen T-shirts that I saw pretty regularly in the 1970's; other characters offered were Gandalf and Smaug. This illustration comes down on the rotund side of interpreting the Hobbit's propensity for fat, which varies from obese to pudgy to pot-bellied to almost nonexistent.

The second picture is of the aged Bilbo at Rivendell, and is a detail from a large poster by Judy King Rieniets (this poster was later reproduced as the "centerfold" of one of the Tolkien calendars). Rieniets has a definite Celtic feel to her designs.

The third Bilbo is a detail of a picture by Tim Kirk, one of the first artists to produce a Tolkien calendar. It is from a famous and iconic scene, the Riddle Game with Gollum. Illustrators love this scenario. The different interpretations of Gollum would be an interesting study in itself.

The fourth picture is from a teacher's catalog for Cassette Classics, which sold packages for units on different subjects. As such, the style is geared more to appeal to children. Once more, it's from the Riddle Game. The only identification for the artist is the name "Berrett" in the corner. The date is uncertain, but probably the early 1980's.

The fifth picture is by Darrell K. Sweet, and is a detail from one of the Great Illustrator's Edition Tolkien calendars. I like Sweet's work; he went on to produce an entire calendar's worth himself and his pictures were chosen as covers for one of Ballantine Books runs of issues of Tolkien's works. His Bilbo seems very thin and lanky, and this is accented by his short vest.


John said...

I like Sweet's work too, but I never have been fond of this Bilbo. If it was not for the context of the picture I would have difficulty guessing what fictional character this was, (maybe a young Darby O'Gill?)
Still and all, a great slew of Bilbos to admire on his birthday!

Anonymous said...

I have the Sweeton print copyright 1973. It is much better (crisper) than the image shown at the top. Don't judge her work by that image.

I also have her Gandalf, Frodo, Gollum, Thorin Oakenshield, Sam Gamgee, and Strider. They are all on a brown card stock paper. Do you know if there were more in this edition? I don't know if I will sell them or give them to a nephew that won't appreciate them.

Brer said...

Magazine ads like this one and the one of Gandalf (also of Smaug) are the only examples of Sweeton's work I have ever seen. I can well imagine that other reproductions are superior. Even in extremely reduced (in size and delicacy) reproductions I can tell that she is a fine illustrator. I'd love to see the others, especially Thorin!

Anonymous said...

Hello Anonymous-
I have the same art you speak of, the Susan Greenwood Sweeton Copyright 1973 prints. Mine are just as you describe, however these are in sealed frames from a gallery in Mobile Alabama. I found them in an estate left to me. There is also an intentionally antiqued looking Certificate of Authenticity of sorts with some type of notary looking seal engraved with "The Lord of The Rings, Speak Friend And Enter." The Certificate is written in speech of the Middle Days and is made up of three paragraphs welcoming me into "The Fellowship". I have searched countless websites trying to find any information possible, but you are the only other person I have ever heard rattle off the same Character Prints I have. Has anyone placed a value on yours? I was offered just over a couple thousand bucks for my set several years ago. I'd like to know if there is a recorded appraisal out there somewhere for the set and certificate.