Classicby Arnie Fenner
I was talking about Lord of the Rings art with Tim Kirk and Michael Whelan over dinner one evening during the Spectrum 20 judging. John Howe, Alan Lee, Donato, and many others were enthusiastically discussed, but I kept returning to my belief that Tim's "The Road to Minas Tirith" (which he says was inspired by the classic painting of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow) and Michael's "The Eagles Are Coming" are two classics for our field. Both are incredibly different in technique and approach and yet both are so "right" that I can't imagine either scene being improved upon by other hands in other interpretations. Why do I feel that way? Take a look for yourselves.
Below: I'm not sure which of these inspired Tim's painting (which was originally done as part of his Master's thesis and which subsequently was published in the 1975 J.R.R. Tolkien wall calendar): I'll have to ask. Update: From Tim. "It was, indeed, this [the second] painting—'Napoleon, Campaign of France' by Ernest Meissonier—that inspired my composition for 'The Road to Minas Tirith'...there was just something about the foreground/background relationship that appealed to me."
Below: I believe Michael originally painted this for a calendar, too.