---The Two Towers, chapter 2
My image of the moment when Aragorn Legolas and Gimli find themselves encircled by the Riders of Rohan has stuck in my head, more or less unchanged, since I first read TTT, I'd always wanted to see it rendered as a painting. What I'd hoped to capture here (and only partially succeeded, in my estimation) was a feel for both the land and people of Rohan, and for the moment itself; the tension between the rushing horses and the stable trio, like the calm eye in a spiraling storm, the power and motion of that foremost horse, the endless flat plain and vast, vaulted sky of the riddermark.
Also, we get the impression of Rohan as the vast grassland, Tolkien describes.
But maybe the strong point of the artwork are the Hunters, who you painted without detail, insinuated, but still instantly recognizable. Like the dark, stern and tall Strider/Aragorn or the stout and brave Gimli.
The grass caressed by the wind and the fast riders in the background are masterworks on their own. Like the cloudy sky, which reminds me to those painted by Velázquez and the Baroque artists (even if that was purely practical, cloudy skies meant less blue used, and blue was the most expensive color. Forgive my rant here) and creates a nice atmosphear.
However I'm so contaminated by ASOIAF and G.R.R. Martin, because I miss the wavering silken, green, standard of the galloping white horse of the House of Eórl. I'm a bit obsessed with heraldry because it isn't mentioned in the book that they ride under such banner.
This reminds me to Alan Lee.
this was one of my favorite parts of the two towers, especially the wait; i love that the trio (thanks to legolas) can see their overtakers from an hour's ride off, but cant really do anything to get out of their way on foot, so they just have to wait there and find out if they'll be well recieved or not. It's a great, calm but anticipatory moment, like something you'd see in a kurosawa movie, and gives aragorn the opportunity to monologue about the rohirrim, and we havent really seen yet how he, being this wise but also proud and confident king in exile, would interact with his fellow men (except the breelanders, which is a very different story) I'd considered doing the trio seated in the waving grass, fairly closeup as if from a vantage point sitting beside them, but for a dramatic composition this moment was the clear winner. i'm glad you like the way i did the trio, i myself was prticularly happy with how they came out, and glad the decision to put them relatively out of focus in the middle ground paid off; aragorn seems to be looking at the rider in the foreground, tall and formidable girt with his sword ofcourse (as he later demonstrates for eomer) but with his hands at his sides, gimli's a little more on the defensive about these men and their horses, and legolas the immortal has his face turned away (atleast from our vantage point) not really relateable to the men of rohan, less so even than his companions.
as for the rohirrim themselves tolkien once described them as looking like the horsemen figures on the bayeux tapestry (even though those were actually normans, as tolkien must have been well aware, norman and anglo saxon dress and armament in the 11th century were all but indistinguishable for our modern purposes, especially represented as basically as on that tapestry) and i liked how this angle afforded this sort of tapestry like side-scrolling view of the eorlings riding in cohort, and then we get that one in closeup, more an archetype than an individual character, i'd hoped in the ready pose, the swiftness of that strong horse, the maille and sword, and that viking-helmeted head with blond beard and streaming hair, to capture the essence of the people of rohan; that is a silhouette against the vast prairie sky that you would see unchanged at any time in their history.
glad you like it, and the horse especially, those are hard i find, so i'm glad this one's doing it for you.
as always, good to hear from you bro.
I can really use a bigger rez here for sure! Do it when you have the time!
A tease! Of course you are cooking something exciting as always! I'm looking forward to see news in your gallery!
I did some new stuff too, if you feel like, drop by and take a look, there is some more dwarven mask stuff this time
my next two paintings (both currently under production) will both feature horses as well. one's from the children of hurin; speaking of which, I saw your new work, it's excellent.
So good to see it in better detail! The streak is a party pooper but never mind, the art is so great here and it is a pleasure to see it high rez.
I am really looking forward to put my eyes upon those new pieces! I love the COH book so it will be a great pleasure to see your depiction of a scene from it!
Thanks for the compliment in my last piece man, you know how much it is appreciated!
I would also like to say that I like the cool-headed quality you lend the three hunters who act as the other focus of this painting as the calm eye at the heart of this equestrian cascade; they're quite clearly prepared for trouble but not looking to pick a fight (although Master Gimli does rather look as if he's bracing himself to take not a single hint of cheek from these Horsemen … or their mounts!).
As a closing statement, it may amuse you to learn that (being detail-oriented and easily-diverted) I myself have actually conducted a small degree of research into disparate horse breeds to try and work out what the most appropriate physical model for the Horses of the Rohirrim should be … I never quite pinned the question down with a firm answer, although I do recall rather gravitating towards something Hungarian (given the parallels between the Hungarian plain and the Riddermark).
It's amazing what a meticulous imagination will do to even the most sensible mind …
So unless Tolkien imagen the Rohirrim to ride 19th-20th century horses, the line "Their horses were of great stature" is way off.
However the Percheron fits the description quite well, and it's and old breed used by knights. Obviously they were smaller in medieval times then they are now, but they were known as a "great horse". Oh and u also have the Friesian horse.
My reasons for doing so should be evident after perusing this particular image!
Now having looked at images of the two breeds you have mentioned I must say that while the Percheron strikes me as a bit too burly for my mental image of the great horses for Rohan (although it DOES indeed have 'great stature'), for I tend to see them as beasts bred for speed and for grace and for endurance rather than for raw power, that other suggestion of yours the Friesian horse looks PERFECT - the breed appears to have magnificent presence and conformation without looking more like the equine equivalent of a bodybuilder, rather than an olympic decathlete.
Really, save for the colour THIS is what one of the Mearas ought to look like.
I still haven't quite decided on the perfect MIX of influences (I have noted previously that my mental images tend to be a mosaic more often than a photograph), but the Friesian certainly adds a new piece to an old puzzle.
I would like to point out that both the Percheron and Friesian horse would not have looked the same in medieval times as it does now. I know for a fact that the Percheron has been turned into a horse more suited for pulling heavy carts and wagons then as a riding horse. So this bodybuilder horse as you called it is the modern Percheron. The Friesian horse would have to be smaller in medieval times.
It's hard tracking horses down to the medieval times since they did not look at horses as breeds, but rather as types. Here's a few medieval types, Palfrey,Retinue,Rouncey and the more famous war horses, the Courser and the Destrier.
The Courser were light, fast and strong. The Destrier was the finest and strongest of horses, only used for battle of jousting. But they have more or less the average height only that their stronger and more muscular.
Now i suggest you have in mind that perhaps Tolkien didn't know that much about horse breeds and horse types, and only wrote what he thought to be a majestic and noble description of a knights horse.
And wouldn't it be highly possible that when he wrote about them he reminisces about the horses, he surely must have seen, used by the British cavalry during WW I? i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/0…
Not sure that's a British cavalryman or not, but the 20th century war horse quite fits the description "great stature, strong and clean-limbed" don't you think? Sure the mane and all that aren't there but still.
I must say I rather like your suggestion of using a 20th Century warhorse as a model for the mounts of the everyday Rohirrim (a thought that continuously reoccurs to me when contemplating the mounts that make the Eorlingas what they are is that they ought to look hard-worked but very well-treated, as working animals rather than show-ponies).
I will also say that it's perfectly plausible that the Horses of Rohan would descend from Forest Breeds - given that Eorl himself brought his people and their herds south from the very eaves of Mirkwood.
Please allow me to conclude by thanking you very kindly Gabbanoche for taking an interest in my own ramblings and also to thank you Master Mohan for not taking me to task for having the cheek to pad out your thread with such rumination!
Mostly i commented because it's an interesting conundrum and the fact that the Hungarian horse didn't fit the description. Plus i'm always up for a nice discussion
Well if the men of Rohan have somehow manage to create 20th century horses in the medieval Middle Earth, well then surely they would be quite superior! Much like the Polish cavalry of the 16-17th century, because they too had great, tall and fast horses.
The 20th century war horse is however warm blooded i believe and most forest horse offsprings are cold blooded, i think. Now i'm no expert on horses so that might not be a obstacle.
But no matter what breed, a war horse must be fast, agile and strong.
My next piece (currently under development) features a really big warhorse, i've been doing alot of research into the medieval destriers and their contemporary descendants.
I too thin the Frisian fits the description best, with its impressive mane and muscular body.
And yes, Rohan is definitely a "fuck you" to the Normans ^^
I should also like to note that if you think Tolkien is heavy-going, you really might want to avoid 'WAR AND PEACE' which makes it look rather like light reading by comparison! (or A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE of which the same might be said).
Ah Tolstoy... Would love and read that one! Or at least all the battle scenes. Yeah i've started reading ASOIAF but i had already started to watch the series so it felt too much like repeat so i binned it.
So far i would say Robert E Howard is my favorite writer and i also like Michael Arnold just read a little of his Civil war series, but they seem very interesting.
Actually i read very little except big dry history books
I just want to point out that the sword is on the wrong side of the rider, in most cases the sword would be hung on ones left thigh.
Speaking of swords and Rohirrim, the worst blooper in the whole of TTT movie is when Eomér drops his sword www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7yUDI… If you haven't realised that yet i'm sorry for ruining the scene for you.