Tove Jansson’s illustrations for J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit book are now presented to this extent for the first time! Vantaa Art Museum Artsi in Vantaa, Finland hosts Pax – puhutaan rauhasta (Pax – let’s talk about peace) exhibition including a separate part with Tove Jansson’s Hobbit illustrations.
Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish writer of books for children and an editor, asked in 1960 Tove Jansson to illustrate the new Swedish translation, called Bilbo – en hobbits äventyr, of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Hobbit. Lindgren wrote: “When one reads the book, one sees Tove Jansson’s illustrations in front of oneself, and one says to oneself that this will become the children’s book of the century which will live long after we have been died and buried.” The illustrations were published in 1962 and were later used in Hobbit’s Finnish editions.
When illustrating Hobbit, Tove Jansson drew rather impressions of Tolkien’s texts than their literal replicas. The illustrations were also Jansson’s attempt to change her own way of drawing. When sending the finished pictures to Astrid Lindgren, Jansson wrote: “I have tried to free myself of Moomin-style lines and carefully filled-in surfaces.”
Later Tove Jansson wrote to Mikael Ahlström, the Chairman of Finnish Tolkien Society Kontu: ”För mig var det ett äventyr att få illustrera The Hobbit, ” that is, “For me, illustrating the Hobbit was an adventure.” (Tove Jansson’s letter to Mikael Ahlstörm, June 26, 1992).
Tove Jansson’s Hobbit illustrations are presented to this extent for the very first time: on exhibit are 21 illustrations that have been loaned by Vantaa Art Museum from Tampere Moomin Museum.
Vantaa Art Museum Artsi is located a short train-ride away from the Helsinki city centre in Myyrmäki, Vantaa. Artsi can be accessed from the lobby of Myyrmäkitalo or via their own entrance at Paalutori square. Free entrance! Check the opening hours on museum’s website.
Cover photo: Antti Yrjölä / Vantaan taidemuseo Artsi
Photo: Moomin Characters