lunedì 23 aprile 2018

Elrond - Mithril M338 (1994)

In order to recover from last model's disappointmentI picked a Mithril piece from the '90s: simple, elegant and dependable. And here is Elrond, or M338, from 1994. What a great model.

Elrond is probably one of my favourite characters from any book of Tolkien - as a matter of fact, he appears in all of them. A minor character in the Silmarillion, he rises to be one of the Wise in the later books, and take the archetypal role of mentor: the one who provides the main characters with information and advice, and sets them on the right path to victory.

Elrond was first conceived by Tolkien in the Hobbit:
The master of the house was an elf-friend - one of those people whose fathers came into the strange stories before the beginning of History, the wars of the evil goblins and the elves and the first men in the North. In those days of our tale there were still some people who had both elves and heroes of the North for ancestors, and Elrond the master of the house was their chief. He was as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer. He comes into many tales, but his part in the story of Bilbo's great adventure is only a small one, though important, as you will see, if we ever get to the end of it. His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.
Hob, Chapt. 3 - A short rest
Elrond is, since the beginning, the Master of the House in Rivendell: the place and the character are linked and inseparable, one the mirror of the other. They represent safety and hope for the Free People of Northwestern Middle-earth. Rivendell is a place of healing and wisdom, the Last Homely House before the Wilderness, a beacon of civilisation where civilisation is seemingly lost.

"Rivendell" by JRR Tolkien
His description in LotR is similar in tone:
The face of Elrond was ageless, neither old nor young, though in it was written the memory of many things both glad and sorrowful. His hair was dark as the shadows of twilight, and upon it was set a circlet of silver; his eyes were grey as a clear evening, and in them was a light like the light of stars. Venerable he seemed as a king crowned with many winters, and yet hale as a tried warrior in the fulness of his strength. He was the Lord of Rivendell and mighty among both Elves and Men.
FotR, Book II, Chapt. I - Many Meetings
While in Hob we are offered but a glimpse of Elrond, it is in LotR that he truly develops as a character, and even more in Sil. He is a character larger than life: noblest of the Eldar in Middle-earth, wisest among them, keeper of one of the Three, protector of the line of Isildur and their heirlooms. Looking at his life, he has been a direct witness to the most important events in history: born of Earendil and Elwing at the Havens of Sirion, after the Nirnaeth, Elrond and his twin Elros are captured by the Sons of Fëanor when only six years old, during the Third Kinslaying. They will never see their parents again, but they will be raised by Maglor.

"And Maglor took pity upon them" by Catherine Karina Chmiel

Elrond is 55 years old, just about an adult among the Elves, when the War of Wrath is over and Maglor disappears. Free at last from his captor and mentor, Elrond is offered a choice by the Valar, whether to be counted among the Mortals or the Immortals. Unlike his brother, Elrond chooses the Eldar, and as Beleriand sinks under the waves, he moved to Lindon in the court of the High King Gil-galad. Here Elrond becomes his Herald.

Elrond is one of the few who is not fooled by Annatar's promises and he meets him at the borders of Lindon forbidding him entrance. When the Maia reveals himself as Sauron and leads his armies against Eregion, Elrond in turn heads the host of the Eldar of Lindon against him. He fails to defeat the Lord of the Rings, but he is able to rescue some inhabitants of Eregion and retreats north, where he reaches the hidden vale of Imladris and there he sets his camp. He spends three years there, besieged by enemies, until Tar Minastir of Númenor lands his forces in Middle-earth and, together with Gil-galad, drives Sauron's forces out of Eriador.

At this point Elrond could go back to Lindon, but he does not. With great foresight, he understands the need to keep an outpost in eastern Eriador to guard the land against the Shadow, and together with the survivors of Eregion and a few of his companions he establishes the Last Homely House, the mansion of Imladris. He will spend the following 4.762 years as its lord and master.

During this time, only once will Elrond ride in arms outside his borders: during the War of the Last Alliance. Summoned by his king Gil-galad, the Lord of Imladris led his forces against Mordor and fought during the siege of Barad-dûr. He was witness to the defeat of Elendil and Gil-galad, felled by Sauron himself, and the victory of Isildir, who cut the One from his Master's hand and took it for himself. He spoke to a dying Gil-galad, and received from him the Ring of Air, Vilya, thus becoming one of the Keepers of the Three.

His time in Middle-earth ended with the Third Age, when he took the Last Ship with the other Ringbearers and joined his wife in Valinor, leaving behind his children, Elladan and Elrohir, who remain in Imladris, and Arwen, who becomes Queen of Gondor and will share with his husband Aragorn the doom of Men and mortality.

Untitled by Pauline Baynes

Elrond is, as we have seen, full of virtues - strength, courage, wisdom, leadership, nobility, compassion - but none of them greater than his humility. In spite of being the best candidate to lead the Eldar in Middle-earth, first in line to succeed Gil-galad as High-king, he never raised any claim, simply content to be the Master of Rivendell, to occupy a small, isolated corner of Eriador and help the Free Peoples with hospitality and advice. And ultimately his choice bore fruit: he surely understood better than others the Doom of Mandos and the futility to try to restore the power and glory of the Light Elves, but instead he was key to ensure the success of many enterprises such as Thorin Oakenshield's quest for Erebor and the journey of the Fellowship of the Ring, as well as many others we know not of from the main books - the sapping of Angmar's power in Rhudaur in the middle of the Third Age, among many. By defending Rivendell in the wild lands around the Misty Mountains, he fostered hope for generations of members of the Free Peoples. Few indeed, in all of Middle-earth, contributed more than Elrond in the fight against Sauron, and yet he went mostly uncredited, simply known in other lands as a loremaster and wise scholar.

The representation of Elrond in the visual media varies wildly, but somehow there seems to be a preference for the colour blue associated to him, perhaps because of the sapphire in his ring. As an alternative, grey.
The Hobbit (1977)
R. Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings (1978)
The Hobbit graphic novel (1989)
Bilbo's Last Song by Pauline Baynes (1990)
"Elrond recalls past events" by M. Kaluta (1990s?)
Hugo Weaving playing Elrond in P. Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
So here we go. The sculpt from Chris Tubb is very good: extremely natural and harmonious. Elrond holds a book, pointing at a page and looking up. His simple and wide robes drape elegantly, held at the waist by a long belt of cloth. The sleeves are folded up, manifesting the pragmatism of the character, whose hair are held back by a circlet. This is the fifth time Tubb sculpts Elrond (out of seven) and, in my opinion, this figure is the nicest.

The sculpt is, in itself, very simple, so I decided to experiment a bit with the painting to add complexity. Making use of a liner brush, I drew the letters on the book and added little white points at the bottom of the robes as stars. For a first attempt, the stars came out ok, although I think I can do better. But the book is spot on, isn't it? The circlet is non metallic silver - again, it could have better, but for a first time it's not too abysmal.

Overall, greatly pleased by this piece. One of the best I've painted from Mithril.

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