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Ar-Pharazon

By TurnerMohan
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Ar-Pharazon the Golden, the twenty fifth and last King of Numenor. He defeated and captured Sauron, only to end up corrupted and tricked by him into worshipping Morgoth and declaring war on the Valar, resulting in the drowning of Numenor and the death of the great majority of it's people.

I always envisioned Ar-pharazon (like Boromir) as very much a Henry VIII-type character, specifically Henry in his prime when he was known as "the handsomest of the Princes of Europe," (before aging into the bloated figure from the Holbein portraits) a big, broad shouldered man, a powerful athlete and fearless military commander, charismatic, loved by the people, but also proud, selfish, power-hungry and (as it happened) easily manipulated by evil.

We see him here at his great moment of triumph, after the capture of sauron; parading through the streets of Armenelos on his huge war horse, behind him his armies and legions, bearers of gold and trinkets from the south, huge exotic beasts, and at the center of it all, the real life, honest-to-god Lord of Mordor himself, chained and displayed (recalling the chaining of melkor) atop a parade float decorated with bronze images of numenorean soldiers spearing demonic creatures underfoot (THAT will definitely be getting a drawing some time soon) I spent a long time debating what 'kind' of armor to put him in before settling, somewhat reluctantly on plate armor, it just seemed such a good fit for the majesty, pomp, and sort-of gunslinger's swagger of the character (middle earth's warriors are near-universally clad in chainmail, but I like to think (or rather to rationalize) that the numenoreans of all men, renowned for their advanced craft, may have been into some experimentation with plate, and the Golden King, of all men, would take one look at the glorious new innovation and have to have it)

Designing the heraldry of the late 2nd age numenoreans was something of a challenge, as it seems those symbols of theirs which we see surviving in gondor ("seven stars and seven stones, and one white tree") represent the old friendship of numenor with the elves and the powers in the west, most likely unfashionable at the time of Ar-pharazon's reign. I thought perhaps more emphasis would be placed on the figure of Earendil himself and/or his son Elros Tar-minyatur, elevating the man (and by extension his descendants) to near divine status. Also I very much like the idea of the late Numenoreans adopting styles and design motifs from conquered lands, resulting in a prevalence of perverse, chimeral beasts from Haradric or Khandian tradition (manticores, gryphons , etc.) appearing in the last days of numenorean art history (I imagine that the lion, a creature unmentioned in the northwest of middle earth but one that we may assume existed in the far regions to the south and east, would be a favorite among the kingsmen; regal and predatory, perhaps the faces of Ar-pharazon and others appeared on sphinxes)

part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchblog

See also:
Queen of Numenor turnermohan.deviantart.com/art...
Numenorean Armor turnermohan.deviantart.com/art...
Numenorean Helmets turnermohan.deviantart.com/art...
Queen Beruthiel turnermohan.deviantart.com/art...
IMAGE DETAILS
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2294x3107px 1.95 MB
Make
Canon
Model
Canon MX890 series Network
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© 2013 - 2020 TurnerMohan
Comments43
anonymous's avatar
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Master-of-the-Boot's avatar
Color me seriously impressed. But the level of technical perfection in this drawing would make Tolkien weep with joy. 
thebigleobowsiki's avatar
I know this sounds weird but, I think a better historical comparison would be Persia instead of Rome , mainly because the Persians where more humanitarian in the early middle parts of their civilization like the Numenoreans, then in the later part of the empire became warlike and corrupt like the Sassanaids . the Persians would also monotheistic ,worshiping the Zoroastrian faith , They arguably had the best archers and cavalrymen in the world. and Finally the Persians had a tremendous influence on western culture similar to how the Dunedian influence the other realms of men.
DaBair's avatar
I can see somewhat of a connection between Numenor and Persia.

I actually see Numenor inspired by several civilizations.
TurnerMohan's avatar
it isnt mainly for the trajectory of their history that the classical greek/roman world seems the best fit to me for numenor and the dunedain - although both greek and roman civilization, like many great ancient civilizations, real or mythologized or, as is usually the case in ancient history, a lot of both, do fall into that same "atlantian" pattern perhaps laid out most comprehensively by thomas cole's "course of empire" paintings; of the arcadian beginnings, the consummation of empire, and the destruction - but the fact that numenor and her descendents seem to occupy a "classical" place relative to the very dark age, northern european world and people of middle-earth in the third age, similar to the way rome must have seemed to the dark age and medieval imagination; this great, now-fallen, one time big power in the world, the last vestments of which are still to be seen all over the place dotting the landscape with ruins, and the descendents of whom still live in middle-earth, albeit in a comparatively reduced power and prestige, very much like byzantine civilization, or "romanesque" civilization in the west during the dark ages. whatever the actual historical parrallels between persia and numenor, persia always has occupied this position in european imagination as the "enemy from the east" rather than the fallen but once great, atlantian (or in tolkienian terms "numenorean") place rome and greece seemed to hold in the medieval mind.
thebigleobowsiki's avatar
True, but Persia is the closest thing we have to a numenor in reality, I understand its not dark age European , however it is more biblical in the grand religious scam of middle earth since king Darius is praised in the bible for returning the Jews to Israel, and mind its pre-ismalic Persia I am referring to not afterwards because then you would be correct in that regaurd of it being the "sinister east".I just posted that idea because it would be an interesting look for the dunedain.
Zireael07's avatar
This is brilliant!
TurnerMohan's avatar
than you so much!
Libra1010's avatar
I would like to compliment you Master Mohan for taking an almost un-described character and turning him into an unforgettable image of equal parts genuine majesty and vainglory with a flourish that would make Master Holbein himself proud!   
GoreManiac's avatar
Great work! Beautiful and detailed armor. And I like his pose...
TurnerMohan's avatar
thanks very much!
Artigas's avatar
Great! Very regal, powerful and classic looking. Great design for a great character!
ElrondPeredhel's avatar
What to said ? A fantastic artwork, may be my preffered one among your last with the following (Sauron and Pharazon).

I remark the sword look a lot like Anduril in the movies (and like longswords in general cause Anduril seems like the archetyp of a longsword in Tolkien movies). Have you thought to the King of Numenor's treasure ? With Narsil and the Ring of Barahir there were Aranruth (Thingol's sword), the Bow of Bregor and Dramborleg (Tuor's sword). We see with Narsil that the Numenoreans did not hesitate to use antic artefact in battle so which weapon could Ar-Pharazon use ?
We can imagine that Aranruth looked like Narsil as it was probably forged by the dwarves, may be also by Telchar himself. Could Ar-pHarazon use it against Sauron in his short-time war ? It was, indeed, the sword of an Elf, but a dark Elf who turn his head to the West and stayed in ME, and the sword is (as I said probably) dwarvish art, used against Sauron's orcs in the past and wield by an ancestor of the King, father and stepfather of Sauron's worst ennemies (at this time, before the Hobbits) : Beren and Luthien. But it's probably more a weapon for Tar-Palantir and Tar-Minastir.
The Bow of Bregor could have be used also, as most Numenoreans nobles used bow (and the steel bow was probably a really respectable weapon, may be used only by the Roqueni), but Ar-Pharazon is (at least in my mind and yours) a strong and athletic man, may be more done for close-fight than long range-weapons (even if you need muscles to use a longbow). It could be the favorite treasure of those king (who I do not remmeber his name) who built a high tower to look at teh stars.
But what do you think of Dramborleg ? At least when he take his boat to Valinor, it is said he put his crown upon his head, put on some ceremonial clothing and took his spectrum but I can't imagine your Ar-Pharazon without a weapon. What could be Pharazon's thougts about Tuor ? He is the only pure Man who reached on Valinor at this time. Of course he was a friend of the Elves but this could be eluded in the court at this time. The Elves of Eressä suggested he was accepted as an Elf and an immortal. The king can think : why him and not me ? But I prefer to imagine that Sauron told the King it was a lie and that Tuor was killed by the Elves/Valar and never knew the immortal life, while Eärendil was persuaded of this tale by his elvish whore or something like that. So, as a way to honor is ancestor Pharazon could use this axe against the Valar and turn it against his makers and ennemies (even if it "whistle like Manwë's Eagles).

I have to let the computer to my "stepmother" but I promise I'm gonna come back soon ;)
TurnerMohan's avatar
The filmmakers hit basically the perfect look with narsil/anduril, and i could see little reason to depart from it (although i forgot the damn dagger again! i finally included it in "earendil in bronze") and yes indeed the numenoreans could boast an impressive collection of old, important hardware, though I heard from Zeonista I believe that the sword of Elu Thingol, an heirloom of the line of Elros, though it was originally worn by the kings of numenor, was not worn by them later on in Ar-Pharazon's time, presumably for it's connection with the elves, something the late numenoeans wished to distance themselves from. I think Ar-Pharazon would have a sword made for him, something of fine make and "blinged out" with a hyper-aggressive name and design, like his mighty warship or his black and gold banners; he seems like the type to want everything to have his stamp on it (or possibly it was an inherited sword made for one of his grandsires like Ar-Adunakhor or Ar-Gimilzor, rejected by Tar Palantir and passed down to him through Gimilkhad, either explanation works for me)
As for Earendil, I would imagine his story would have been quite distorted and recast by Ar-Pharazon's time (i go into more detail on this in my description for "Earendil in Bronze") having a lot of holes in it, and confused with retellings (and those would be all the more exploited by sauron) but yeah, definitely leaving the numenoreans with a story of a man who apparently transcended death (against the will of the valar, sauron might argue, not as a grace from them; I imagine he and the king would have long talks about earendil) and a lingering thought of "if he could do it why cant we?"
ElrondPeredhel's avatar
Time to get bac the loss time and to add some comments :

Your Ar-Pharazôn as light hair. I can imagine him blond, as Aldarion was blond anyway so probably most kings since that, except for Tar-Palantir may be. If we imagine a cartoon or a serie about Numenor hair could be a good way to establish differences between the more "Hadorian" and "Beorian" people and later between the Men of the King and the Faithful for the spectator. In this direction Pharazôn could be dark hair to let doubt on his choice until the end.

Can he ride a war-horse ? It seems strange for a Numenorean, even him, to have one, as the Numenoreans didn't fight on horseback. Even Isildur and his son or on foot at the battle of the Gladenn Fields. If the tradition was to fight on foot, I think even Pharazôn will respect that as he is a warrior.
But he'll have a horse for a triumph given to the relationship between Numenoreans and horses. Not forgetting that "Roquen" (Knight in Quenya), a title used in Numenor, is built on "Ro" (horse) - "Quend" (man) so I can imagine the warriors and Othar to walk on foot and the Roqueni, the captains and the King to be on their horses.
The Numenoreans seems to respect the horses too much to bring them on sea. But at the end of his life Pharazôn could have a chariot with like four or eight horses and bringing it on his boat.
TurnerMohan's avatar
yes I imagine Ar-Pharazon the Golden as a lighter haired man of predominantly hadorian descent (though the name is just as likely a reference to his great wealth and splendor, similar to Louis XIV "the sun king," rather than to his hair color) tolkien's work is often color coded in a rather cartoon manner similar to what you describe (that's true of alot of writers, especially in the fantasy genre) and I would tend to imagine Tar-Palantir and his daughter, though closely related to Pharazon, as being by random genetic chance (as when gandalf, speaking of denethor to pippin remarks "by some chance the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true in him") more like their beorian forebears in mood and appearance (the two very often correspond in middle earth)

As for the king's mount, i dont think that the numenoreans or their descendants were supposed to be averse to riding horses in war, gondor certainly had a cavalry of sorts, and ofcourse as you mention the numenoreans had mounted knights. i tend to think along similar lines to your last suggestion, with the numenorean armies broken down into small corps of officers, knights and the king on horseback (and probable cavalry units) and the vast majority being foot soldiers)

Honestly i had considered a chariot for Ar Pharazon (especially for a triumph) but abandoned the idea as chariots are (as far as i know) nowhere to be found in tolkien's writing except for the wain riders, and chariots seem a little too "southern" for the predominantly anglo-saxon aesthetic overlay upon everything in ME. ofcourse if you could get away with some classical, mediterreanian influence anywhere it would be in numenore (and a good case could be made for chariots as being perhaps a cultural import from conquered lands, deemed fashionable by the numenoreans toward the end of the second age) but in general the regal proceedings in middle earth seem to be alot less heavy on pomp and circumstance (atleast to the effect of detatching the crowned heads of state from their people) than in real history; the kings in middle earth usually seem to "keep it real" always at the head of their armies and int the thick of the fighting and such, and especially for a military commander like ar pharazon, i think he would opt to appear before his people as a rider and captain, rather than some detatched, sphinx-faced caesar figure drawn by a chariot

good to hear from you again, hope you've been well.
ElrondPeredhel's avatar
It's said in the UT III that Numenorians fought on foot only, except for messengers and archers auxiliaries. Things could have been different before Elendil's time but I'm more thinking that the Dunedain, living in ME and not on an island anymore, get used to fight on horseback. Isildur's escort is compound by veterans, squires and knights and everyone is on foot.
Gondor has a cavalry but it's first mentionned in the Battle of the Plain in 1899. Same for Arnor : the only mentionned cavalry is the guard of the last King, Arvedui. I think Gondor and Arnor gradually included cavalry in the regular army while they get more tied up with rider's people (like the Northmen).
Romans didn't have a lot of cavalry too and they used riders from other people as auxiliaries too. I guess Tolkien just took the thing and put it a little further.

Chariots too "southern" ? You forget the ancient britin and their queen Boudicca fighting on a charriot. But yeah, that was long before the Dark Ages. But your analysis of Ar-Pharazôn psychology (who believed such thing exist) seems smart enough for me to exclude this idea. Except may be at the end of his life when he is more a tyrant than a captain, and anyway too old to ride a horse may be.

Good to hear from you too James :) I've been well so far, about to go back to my school in less than two weeks so I try to enjoy the days left. What about you ?
TerraNovan's avatar
The Numenorean fighting style seems to invoke more of Anglo-Saxon shield wall or Greek hoplites than Romans, however. Especially the former. 

If Tolkien had Anglo-Saxon warfare in his mind when writing about the Numenorean warfare, it would make sense that Gondor would adopt cavalry after coming into contact with Northmen, like how chivalric warfare was introduced to England after the Norman Conquest, while infantry tradition was still preserved.
TurnerMohan's avatar
What i mean by chariots being "too southern" is that the whole aesthetic "lense" inwhich middle earth seems to exist and is best viewed through (as dsicussed before) is that of the northern european, anglo saxon dark ages; all the chainmail, the longswords, the conical hemlets, even the politics and language employed in describing things (Middle earth is a kings-only world, you would never see the word "senate" or "republic" or  "politician" cropping up in tolkien's writing, nor for that matter would you see pre roman, celtic terminology like "druid" or "clan") Even the numenoreans, who seem to be a more greco/roman/atlantian people are described in very "northern" terms (they have longswords and kings and all) and when i say that chariots are too southern, i mean that, in the dark age, northern imagination, chariots must have been things of the old, southern, roman world, extinct at the time (i dont think the 6th century anglo saxons had any concept really of 1st century, Bouddica-generation celtic warriors in blue paint riding chariots) an aesthetic equivalent to the pre-european-dark-ages-world never seems to have existed in middle earth, even the first men, upon reaching beleriand, are be done up in the accoutrement of the 5 or 600s AD (as i've said before, they never seem to have had a bronze age). and chariots came before riding horses in real human history because, to the best of my knowledge, horses were, for the most part, too small to ride in the ancient past, only being "bred up" in size fairly recently (depending on where you're looking at, the ancient macedonians of course had a cavalry) like the existence of a bronze age it is doubtfull that this would have been the case in middle earth, where everything seems to have been bigger and better in it's first few generations, and as evidenced by the fact that everybody in middle earth (with the exception of the wain riders) is riding horses pretty much from day one
ElrondPeredhel's avatar
I was more picking on you for Budicca :D

I understood your point and you are right when you say everything in ME have this dark age anglo-saxon "lense" : either the ennemies who are so exotics or the Free People (including Elves, Dwarves and all the Men's kingdoms) which have direct cultural influence from them. The only exception are the really victorian Hobbits, but we already discussed that.
Still. As you said most people (Rohirrim excepted) are a mix between this saxon influence on some other culture. It's true for the Numenoreans who have this greek/roman/atlantic influence. It's true also for the Gondorians which Tolkien mention to have been influenced by Antic Egypt. The Elves too have some egyptian and greek aspects. But it's also true for Esgaroth : while the all wooden city is really scandinavian in my mind (even more "viking" than "saxon" for me, given to its northern location) Tolkien did say he was influenced by the Italian Republics (of course Venice) and it's visible with the fact that it's an untold republic. Indeed, if it's never called this way, there is no king in Laketwon but a Master chosen by the citizens among the oldest and wisest members of the city. It's obviouly not a democracy but an independent city (even after the creation of Dale as a kingdom) with a ruling class and some kind of citizenship, at different moments the Master has to listen to the crowd.

In the end it's the artists choice to decide how far the non-saxon influences can go.

But your specific explanation on chariots is really convincing though. ;)
Darkendrama's avatar
Incredible detail!Clap 
TurnerMohan's avatar
Zeonista's avatar
Hmm, I had never thought to associate Ar-Pharazon and Henry VIII. Congratulations on a truly original idea! :D Your portrait of Ar-Pharazon the Golden does look like a Renaissance prince portrayed riding in triumph, and this sort of pomp and circumstance would be wholly fitting. I have no idea what heraldry Tolkien devised for Numenor itself, if he ever did. That would take time I currently don't have, so that will be tabled for future debate.
TurnerMohan's avatar
I'm not even sure that the comparison wasn't something on tolkien's mind, there's nothing written to support that (and I doubt Henry was the only inspiration) but I'm sure Tolkien had opinions about the reign of Henry VIII and his leading England away from the catholic faith (to which tolkien was devoutly committed)

as for the heraldry, as far as I know there is no given heraldry for the numenorean, beyond, like i said in the description, the symbols of the faithful we see surviving in gondor. Elrondperedhel suggested alot of interesting ideas about regional numenorean heraldry; eagles for forostar, a setting sun for Andunie (though those were of his own theorizing and nowhere mentioned in tolkien's text) But I like to think that for the kingsmen of the mid-to-late second age, as numenor turned away from its friendship with the elves and reverence for the powers in the west, Earendil (who had always been greatly important the Numenoreans) was now elevated to near-godlike status, and his story somewhat recast in more independent and singularly heroic terms, emphasizing "Earendil the human hero and dragon-slayer" (and of course, father of the line of kings) while downplaying "Earendil the half-elven messenger to the Valar" (I'm currently working on a drawing of a piece of numenorean civic statuary featuring earendil slaying ancalagon, which i imagine would be an endlessly popular subject in numenorean art, comparable to - and greatly resembling - the myriad depictions of saint george and/or michael the archangel, which dot europe) So you have earendil appearing here as the "classical face" at the center of the king's breastplate, in the place of reverence which, in earlier generations (and later in gondor) would have been reserved for an image of the white tree and seven stars; an indicator of the numenoreans' breaking from their faith in the divine powers, embracing instead the rather nietzschian "divinity of man"
anonymous's avatar
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