Briefly Noted: Cor Blok’s LOTR paintings collected in ‘A Tolkien Tapestry’
Dutch artist Cor Blok was fascinated with J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings when it was published and subsquently created a series of 140 paintings that he hoped might accompany an illustrated version of the epic. Tolkien met Blok, liked his work, and even purchased some of the paintings.
Now, Pieter Collier from the Tolkien library has tracked down these paintings and worked with Blok to create A Tolkien Tapestry: Pictures to accompany The Lord of the Rings (HarperCollins, September 2011). While the illustrated version Tolkien and Blok hoped to see never materialized, this new book provides LOTR fans with a strong dose of the magic such volume might have contained.
According to Collier, “The approximately 100 full-colour paintings in this new book are presented in story order so that the reader can enjoy them as the artist intended. If one looks at the art works one by one you can easily tell the complete tale of The Lord of the Rings. So all the paintings are accompanied by extracts from The Lord of the Rings and the artist also provides an extensive introduction illuminating the creation of the series and notes to accompany some of the major compositions.”
From the Publisher’s Description: This brand new full-colour art book reveals in sumptuous detail more than 100 paintings based on The Lord of the Rings by acclaimed Dutch artist, Cor Blok, many of which appear here for the first time. Fifty years ago, shortly after The Lord of the Rings was first published, 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.
Some of Cor Blok’s paintings from this book will also appear in the official 2012 Tolkien Calendar from the Tolkien Library. His work was also featured in previous Tolkien Calendars. A Tolkien Tapestry can be purchased directly from Amazon.UK and through associated sellers at Amazon.US. Blok, who was born in 1934, is a retired professor of art history. He lives in Amsterdam where he is at work on a graphic novel.
In an interview about the paintings. Blok was asked what it was like to meet the author. “Nothing very exciting,” he said. “Unknown young artist visits Famous Author, that kind of thing, though the Famous Author behaved amiably enough.”