Review: The Tolkien Years of the Brothers Hildebrandt, Greg Hildebrandt Jr

Title: The Tolkien Years of the Brothers Hildebrandt (Goodreads)
Author:  Greg Hildebrandt Jr

Rating: ★★★★★

The million- selling Lord of the Rings calendars created during the ’70s by renowned fantasy artists Greg and Tim Hildebrandt are now considered artistic masterpieces. This coffee table art book, “The Tolkien Years of the Brothers Hildebrandt,” collects all that fantastic art, while telling the untold story behind the creation of those cherished illustrations. A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the work of two renowned fantasy artists, written through the eyes of their closest family member, providing Tolkien-lovers with a fantastic treasury of Lord of the Rings art.

Details

Series: Stand alone
Genre: Non-fiction Fantasy artwork collection
Published: Dynamite Entertainment, October 16, 2012
Pages: 144
My copy: From the publisher via Netgalley

Paper copies: Amazon.com • Amazon.co.uk • Book Depository • Barnes & Noble
Not available for e-readers.

Review

During the 1970s Tim and Greg Hildebrandt, twins and fantasy illustrators, produced three calendars for Ballantine Books featuring paintings inspired by The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien.

This coffee-table collection gathers all the art pieces for those calendars, along with a variety of sketches and photographs used in the creation of the paintings. These are accompanied by a delightful commentary written by Greg’s son, Greg Junior, who was the chief model for the hobbits featured in the artworks. Greg Jr was only between five and seven years old at the time the calendar art was being created and he shares a child’s delight and sometimes terror at living in a house with two rather eccentric artists, who he believed were friends with wizards and with Tom Bombadil.

When I was small, I remember reading over and over my parents’ copy of David Day’s Tolkien Beastiary, with its horrible monsters and beautiful places and creatures. I feel the Brothers Hildebrandt’s collection could be another of those – a book to be admired and pored over by dreamers of all ages.

The book contains 134 full colour images covering all the artwork for the three calendars, plus 100 black and white images. Forget the pre-conceived pictures in your mind from the LotR movies – these paintings were produced well before that and show an often quite different interpretation of Tolkien’s world. The images are beautiful – using real-life models and armour and props the Hildebrandts designed and built themselves allowed the brothers to paint with an amazing level of realism. Each picture is finely detailed and I think you might find new hidden things each time you look at them! This review e-copy only contained a selection of the paintings and none of the photos so I’m going to have to get my hands on a real copy soon so that I can admire the full complement. Christmas is coming, after all!

I can’t post any of the artworks here, but you can see a small selection of the Tolkien-inspired paintings at the brothers’ website.

This book will be sure to be enjoyed by all fans of Middle Earth, new or old.

Warnings: None, this is squeaky clean.