Frodo’s Goodbye and Last Sight of Hobbiton

Ted Nasmith - 'Last Sight of Hobbiton'

This beautiful rendering of the ‘Last Sight of Hobbiton‘ by Ted Nasmith (2002) is one of my favourite works of Tolkien art.

Nasmith tends to capture the essence of the tale in his artwork: it retains the enchantment of Middle-earth, and often conveys more by depicting less.

This painting says a great deal and speaks to some of the core themes of the book, but in a subtle and quiet way – a moving depiction, combining tranquillity, anticipation and pathos.

One of those themes, I would argue, is the theme of ‘Home’ (I discuss the subject in relation to The Hobbit here). What represents home? What does it mean to leave it behind? How does Home, and the hope you’ll one day return to it, continue to motivate and inspire in the darkest of times? When and why does ‘home’ change – indeed can anywhere in this strange, temporary world ever be home?

Frodo’s journey, from the beginning of the tale to its very last page, encapsulates all these questions.  Reflecting on that journey, his attachment to Home and the never-truly recovered loss of it, is bitter-sweet.

For me, Nasmith’s painting conveys that poignant knowledge.

Hobbiton sleeps as Frodo steals away in the stillness of a peaceful Autumn’s eve – there is no fanfare, no farewell party, no-one notices.  Frodo wonders whether he will ever see Hobbiton again. He considers the perils that may be involved.  But he cannot have any idea of what he is about to face on his path away from the Shire; or that he, and his relationship with the home he loves, will irrevocably change.

The calm stability of the town below, and the safety of the Baggins’s beloved Bag-End now left behind, contrasts with the hobbits’ unsettling journey into the unknown.   The vastness and mystery of the starry night sky that fills much of the painting evokes a cosmos beyond our comprehension; it reveals the reality of an archaic, untamed wider world that belies the cosy parochialism of the Shire, a world which now awaits the hobbits and us.  And there in the corner: Frodo’s position on the edge of the painting mirrors his eventual displacement from the Shire where he was born and lived all his life – even when he returns, he will forever remain on the periphery, an onlooker, as if forgotten.

We know what Frodo does not know, as we see him wave goodbye, and cannot help but feel a sadness.  The weight of the War of the Ring, its noble deeds and terrors, and the eventual sacrifice of a humble hobbit’s life, whisper upon the gentle breeze as we look in upon the simple and quiet moment of Frodo’s ‘Last sight of Hobbiton’.

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11 Responses to Frodo’s Goodbye and Last Sight of Hobbiton

  1. Josh Glover says:

    I didn’t come across this piece whilst doing the research for my post, this is a stunning artwork and like you say, conveys more by depicting less. This is the sort of art that drives me, strong sense of narrative with a theatrical use of lighting.

  2. Josh Glover says:

    Reblogged this on The Fine Art of J Glover and commented:
    This dramatic narrative is one that I missed during my research, an amazing piece of work also by Ted Nasmith.

  3. Saya says:

    This is a really wonderful painting – I find that about all of Ted Nasmith’s work. They have this fairytale quality that stops short of ethereal, in that they are very real, grounded moments. And with your commentary, I really enjoy taking this slow look at the story. It keeps reminding me as well that I need to reread the book!

    How amazing would it be to have a painting like this as a mural on your bedroom wall, though?

  4. Anduril says:

    The way he uses shadows and tones to convey the shape of their luggage is stunning. Again, I agree with ‘more is less’ as the rest of the picture is open to imagination and interpretation. I think the greatest thing with this picture is the scenery. ESPECIALLY the sky and clouds juxtaposed with the setting sun as this conveys a sense of tranquility with the stars and an idea of secrecy with the clouds. This is probably the message he wants to show us— pathetic fallacy is setting the mood

    • Earthoak says:

      You are right Anduril, the sky takes up much of the painting, so a lot needs to be conveyed through it – and Nasmith really does make the most of it. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  5. John.Y. says:

    I love the way the clouds are giving way to the starry night, like a new revelation being revealed, it gives you the sense that something is about to happen, hobbiton left behind an adventure about to unfold.

    • Earthoak says:

      Thank you for this new perspective, that’s a great way to see it. There is definitely a sense of impending adventure in this painting. The calm before the storm if you like.

  6. yourbestfriend says:

    Just came across this post on your blog and discovered this stunning painting through it. Thank you for sharing, I cannot stop looking at it. One of my favourite artists is Caspar David Friedrich, his paintings always make me feel like I’m in it admiring the beautiful landscapes through the people he places in them. This painting does the same thing for me, I feel like I am standing right there with Frodo taking in the beauty of this moment – the starry night sky, the peaceful sounds of nature at night, the cool autumn air and the smell of grass, leaves, earth (…. and oak) 🙂

    • Earthoak says:

      Thank you for your kind comments, and I’m glad you have discovered this painting through this blog. Might be a good idea to become more familiar with Caspar David Friedrich’s work, I look forward to exploring. Yes I also can imagine Frodo taking in the beauty of the sight – mixed with the sadness of leaving it. Thanks again for coming by.

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