Good morning everyone, and welcome back to the Mirror Gallery here on Hipsters of the Coast. Throne of Eldraine officially releases tomorrow and you know what that means: it’s Grand Art Tour time!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter or keeping up with the Art Market Minutes, you know I’ve been talking a lot about the art from this set. It is one of the most visually striking sets I can remember in terms of artwork, frame, and flavor, and there are so many incredible paintings I want to talk about. To ensure I can cover everything, I’m going to do not one, not two, but three Grand Art Tours throughout October, with close to 40 pieces of artwork between them.

Here’s what we’re looking at in terms of schedule:

October 3rd: Volume 1—Lands
October 17th: Volume II—Storybook Showcase & Alternate Art
October 31st: Volume III—Regular Set & Promotional

With all the variant, alternate, and promo artwork, this set contains more commissioned art than most; and there are so many things that you simply can’t see at card size. As with all my Grand Art Tour series I’m looking for works that have strong narrative storytelling, an especially key thematic element of this set, as well those that evoke overwhelming emotion, wonderment, and maybe even a bit of nostalgia. We have lots to look at so let’s not give pause; these are my favorite lands from the Throne of Eldraine, in no particular order:

Fabled Passage by Howard Lyon

Fabled Passage by Howard Lyon, oil on linen on Gatorboard, 16” x 20”

The unstoppable Howard Lyon has done it again with this masterwork land, one of his eight illustrations for Throne of Eldraine. An autumnal palette tucked away into this most secret place deep in the wood, Lyon is able to make oil paint become pure magic, and transport us entirely into this new world. Looking closely, we see five different colored lotuses, a nod to the five colors of Magic and the function of card, allowing the player to one-time search for a land of one of the five. This fairytale world amplifies Lyon’s pre-Raphaelite stylings and can be seen throughout his work in this set, with this piece in particular really being something special.

Swamp by Paul Scott Canavan

Swamp by Paul Scott Canavan. Digital.

This is Paul Canavan’s first basic land, and he knocked it out of the park. Being able to incorporate the sunrise into what is characteristically a dark palette is quite the challenge, but the pinks and purples give this Swamp a one of a kind touch, and make it as unique as the plane in which it exists. There are so many tiny details that make this make-believe place real, from the raven in the foreground and his bird friends on the tree to the muck and mire sprinkled throughout, so deliciously rendered you can almost smell them. This Swamp is without a doubt one of my new go-to lands in this color. It’s eerily enchanting, exactly as Eldraine swamps were intended.

Castle Ardenvale by Volkan Baga

Castle Ardenvale by Volkan Baga, oil on board, 16.1” x 22”

Reminiscent of the white city Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings, Castle Ardenvale sings of majesty and valor, just like the people that call it home. This illustration is signature storybook, and Baga’s versatility of style really shines through here to drive that feeling home. He can paint the soldier on the front line, the angel in the sky, the artifacts they hold, and the home in which they live. You can almost hear the trumpets calling, and this work feels like opening up your favorite story to Page 1’s classic words: “Our story begins…”

Mountain by Jesper Ejsing

Mountain by Jesper Ejsing, acrylics on watercolor paper, 14.5” x 18”

Jesper has done over 150 illustrations for Magic, but his very first basic land has finally arrived for Throne of Eldraine. The depth of this painting is exceptional: a cave that is although certainly dangerous is at the same time inviting, and has an almost magnetizing pull for the audience as they follow the glowing orbs through the mountain pass. His signature palette of pinks and purples are perfect for this sunset, and place this mountainous range purely in “fantasyland,” as he likes to call it. Ejsing has painted dozens of Goblins throughout his career with Magic, and now has painted them a perfectly proper place to call home.

Castle Garenbrig & Forest by Adam Paquette

Castle Garenbrig by Adam Paquette. Digital.

It’s not often you get to see a pair of telescopic works in Magic, but Paquette gives us exactly that in these two green-aligned lands. Castle Garenbrig feels like the Pride Rock of Eldraine, older than time, and the center of natural power that demands respect from its inhabitants. From the stone pillar in the immediate foreground to shooting star of cloud in the background, this is marvelous.

Forest by Adam Paquette. Digital.

Let’s go a bit bigger picture now. It’s quite difficult to see at card size, but if you look closely into the background of the Forest, you see none other than Castle Garenbrig! He explained on Twitter that his goal with the basic land was to pull the camera outwards and send the viewer into the wild. We’re exploring Eldraine on our own through these illustrations—how fun is that?

Swamp by Svetlin Velinov

Swamp by Sveltlin Velinov. Digital.

Just look at the lights in the trees.

A repeating element through the lands of Eldraine, the fairy-esque will-o’-the-wisps make this Swamp something spectacular. Similar to Canavan’s Swamp we looked at earlier, it’s very difficult to imbue such strong light into the dark palette required for a Swamp, but Svetlin has done something magical here with these bioluminescent balls of fire. The weeping willows are meant to show you the way, leading the viewer right into the painting, as if you yourself were moving through the bogs of Eldraine. I for one can’t wait to see this card in foil, and have them literally glow in the palm of your hand.

Gingerbread Cabin by Chris Ostrowski

Gingerbread Cabin by Chris Ostrowski.

A classic fairytale trope of the Gingerbread House, Ostrowski is able to make Gingerbread Cabin wholly unique to Eldraine without losing what we’d expect to see. Sitting atop huge crisscrossed vines, it both seems that it’s been there for some time and yet a bit unnatural, as if someone had placed it there as a trap. If we look at the story of Hansel and Gretel a bit closer, we know this is how it works. The path that leads to the porch light illuminating the front door is really what tells the story. This extra tiny detail that puts the viewer squarely in their shoes and invites you in, and even though you know how the story ends, you can’t help but walk right up to the door and give it a knock.

Castle Locthwain by Titus Lunter

Castle Locthwain by Titus Lunter. Digital.

Like an Imperial Star Destroyer moving through space, you can feel the overwhelming heaviness of this dark Castle, a looming threat of unknown power, as it sails over the swamps of Eldraine. Even with the incredible size of this ship, Lunter has made sure the fantasy, castle-specific details aren’t lost. Each turret has a little flag, each tower a window, and if you look closely, you can even see the water streaming off the foundation as it rises into the air. He’s captured the castle in mid-flight, an exciting moment of mystery, and though we can’t quite be sure where it’s off to, we know we best pay attention.

Castle Vantress by John Avon

Castle Vantress by John Avon. Digital.

Speaking of water streaming off the foundation of floating castles, this element of Avon’s Castle Vantress captured my attention immediately. Though the water is flowing down, it actually guides your eye up through the rest of the work, almost surrealistically. We know that castles don’t normally fly, yet here is a flying castle, and nothing seems out of place. This painting shows Vantress wide-lens, both strong and majestic and yet with a touch of fanciful whimsy. It’s this dichotomy that runs through so many of these works makes this world of Eldraine hand down one of my favorite Magic planes to date.

Command Tower by Evan Shipard

Command Tower by Evan Shipard

The new Brawl pre-constructed decks for Throne of Eldraine have brought with them a new Command Tower! This is the third different artwork for this card, and this version simply exudes power. The tower itself feels familiar, but now lightning crackles from below, right along the traveler’s path, and this time against an angry backdrop of fiery reds and yellows. Shipard has shown us the raw, unbridled power within this bastion of mana, and that means proceed with caution and respect, just as indicated in the flavor text:

“Approach my tower on bended knee or depart from it as ash upon the wind.”

— Gadwick, the Wizened

Plains by Sidharth Chaturvedi

Plains by Sidharth Chaturvedi, oils on board, 11.8” x 15.7″

This is another first time basic land, with this one for Sidharth “Sid” Chaturvedi. This Plains has some of the thickest brushstrokes you’ll find on a Magic card, and invokes a feeling that hearkens back to the painterly works of the Golden Age of Illustration. Looking left you’ll even find a tiny faerie circle, a simple but very powerful addition that situates this field firmly in Eldraine. Sid is wholly pushing the envelope when it comes to Magic illustration: the hills are in motion, and if you close your eyes, you can feel just the slightest breeze on your face, as if you were in Elysium.

Wrapping Up

And so ends Volume I of our Throne of Eldraine Grand Art Tour. There is a special place in my heart for lands, and this set transported up to some of the most enchanting locations imaginable. This world is entirely fiction, but because we’ve been to these places through story and film and that makes them particularly resonant. I think that’s part of what makes Eldraine so magical: as the viewer we know it’s not real, but it feels so familiar; it’s like we’ve never left a place, even though we’ve never been.

If I missed any of your favorite lands give me a shout on Twitter and I’d love to talk about them there! Also a quick note: Whimsy, Wonder, & War: A Magic Art Show opens in less than a month at IX 12. Check out the preview article, and if you’re anywhere within driving distance to the show, I must encourage you to go. It’s going to be a once in a lifetime chance to see some of these pieces of Magic art.

I’ll be back in two weeks with more Throne of Eldraine art. Enjoy this fabulous new set, and I’ll see you then!

Donny Caltrider has been playing Magic since 2002 and collecting original Magic art since 2017. He has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and enjoys telling stories about art, objects, and the intersection of fantasy with real-life. You can find him on Twitter talking about #mtgart, museums, and other #vorthos related goodness. Follow along and continue the conversation!

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