Josef Madlener, born as a farmer's son in the Bavarian village Amending (today a district of Memmingen), attended a School of Art and Applied arts. Later he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.
His pictures often show folksy or religious scenes. His style was impressionistic and in the same way symbolic, too. His works were published in several newspapers and magazines. He wrote some Christmas stories for children. Madlener's Christmas pictures were published in post card series, too.
Origin of Gandalf
In 1935 the Bavarian fine art publisher F.A. Ackermann published a series of post cards under the title Sagen und Märchen (Legends and Fairy tales). The series contained six reproductions of folkloristic paintings:
- Der Frühling Kommt (Spring is coming),
- Die Bergfee (The Mountain-fairy),
- Waldmärchen (Forest fairy tales),
- Hubertushirsch (Saint Hubert's Hart)
Though Carpenter speculates, that Tolkien bought the post card already in his summer holidays 1911, when he was in Switzerland. This speculation is incorrect: as explained by Manfred Zimmermann, the post card version of Der Berggeist was published in the late twenties. Interviewing the daughter of the artist (born 1910), she gives the painting's date of origin also later, as she can remember when his father was painting it.
- J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, "Chapter I: An unexpected Party", p. 38f
- Biographical data in a brief description of Das goldene Buch (German)
- , p. 51
- Mythlore 34 (1983), Manfred Zimmermann, "The Origin of Gandalf and Josef Madlener", pp. 22-24
- "Lot 423: Der Berggeist" dated 12 July 2005, Sotheby's (accessed 10 January 2020)