Stoic Decay

pictures / projects by gElm / Lem de Grosnpreg

Illustrations for the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien

Post Ringwraith Destruction

Then tottering, struggling up, with her last strength she drove her sword between crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her. The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown rolled away with a clang. Eowyn fell forward upon her fallen foe. But lo! the mantle and hauberk were empty.


And there stood Meriadoc the hobbit in the midst of the slain, blinking like an owl in the daylight, for tears blinded him; and through a mist he looked on Eowyn's fair head, as she lay and did not move; and he looked on the face of the king, fallen in the midst of his glory… → The Return of the King

The Dark Rider

Round the corner came a black horse, no hobbit-pony but a full-sized horse; and on it sat a large man, who seemed to crouch in the saddle, wrapped in a great black cloak and hood, so that only his boots in the high stirrups showed below; his face was shadowed and invisible. → The Fellowship of the Ring

Lake-town, or Esgaroth

This was a wide circle of quiet water surrounded by the tall piles on which were built the greater houses, and by long wooden quays with many steps and ladders going down to the surface of the lake. → The Hobbit


Many artists have translated Tolkien's words into pictures - foremost among them (in my opinion) Alan Lee and Ted Nasmith - but of them all Tolkien remains the greatest. His drawings for The Hobbit are nearly perfect examples of how an illustration can expand a text without getting in the way. They don't dazzle with virtuosic style or draftsmanship. They are solid, almost diagrammatic, renderings that give you a framework upon which to continually build as you read. As my attempts at illustration amply show, I have a lot to learn.