Gandalf

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Gandalf (pronounced /ˈɡændɑːlf/) is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head (after Saruman's betrayal and fall) of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West. In The Lord of the Rings, he is initially known as Gandalf the Grey, but after returning from death as Gandalf the White.

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Concept and creation

Humphrey Carpenter in his 1977 biography relates that Tolkien owned a postcard entitled Der Berggeist (German: "the mountain spirit"), and on the paper cover in which he kept it, he wrote "the origin of Gandalf". The postcard reproduces a painting of a bearded figure, sitting on a rock under a pine tree in a mountainous setting. He wears a wide-brimmed round hat and a long red cloak, and a white fawn is nuzzling his upturned hands.

Carpenter said that Tolkien recalled buying the postcard during his holiday in Switzerland in 1911. Manfred Zimmerman,[1] however, discovered that the painting was by German artist Josef Madlener and dates to the mid–1920s. Carpenter acknowledged that Tolkien was probably mistaken about the origin of the postcard.

The original painting was auctioned at Sotheby's in London on 12 July 2005 for ₤84,000.[2] The previous owner had been given the painting by Madlener in the 1940s and recalled that Madlener said the mountains in the background were the Torri del Vaiolet, peaks of Dolomites.[1]

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