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Samuel Palmer (1805-1881)

(Reading John Fowles' The Ebony Tower...)

The Harvest Noon, 1831

The Lonely Tower, 1879

Palmer had started drawing since his childhood and first exhibited at the Royal Academy at age 14, being considered a prodigy. At age 17 he began studying at the Academy. Through his mentor, English landscape artist John Linnell, “a good angel from Heaven to pluck me from the pit of modern art,” later his father-in-law, Palmer met the visionary William Blake. He was heavily influenced by Blake's works. A year later, in 1825, he made a series of small, dark landscapes of brown ink, sepia and gum arabic on paper, that presented his “Valley of Vision” as a paradise of sorts.

Early Morning, 1825

Self Portrait, c 1825

Nature for Palmer was the gateway to the world of visions, he preferred to paint in dusk, when light effects
reinforced the sense of mystery in his mysterious landscapes.
He formed an artist's group, the Ancients, also inspired by Blake's works and focused on early Renaissance art and poets, (its outstanding members included George Richmond and Edward Calvert).
Palmer was embraced by artists who fell outside the accepted boundaries of the epic and linear course of modernism. The Pre-Raphaelites claimed him as a precursor in the 1870's. In the late-1920's, the English neo-Romantics, led by Graham Sutherland, discovered the impressive etchings he made late in life and developed a dark illustration print style in homage. There was renewed attention in the late 1940's: Palmer is frequently cited as a precedent for the English eccentrics like Stanley Spencer and the young Lucian Freud.
In the middle of his career Palmer's work became rather academic - he mostly painted landscapes with waterfalls and golden views of Rome as a typical Victorian painter.

In 1837 Palmer and his wife Hannah departed to Italy on 2-year honeymoon. Upon his return to England he found most of his early paintings pawned by his brother William. Palmer had to pay out a great deal to get it back.
In 1909, his son Alfred, destroyed a great amount of Samuel Palmer’s early work. He burnt sketchbooks, notebooks, and original works.

The Harvest Moon
Cornfield by Moonlight

The Cypress Grove, etching

Homeward Star

The Sepulchre
Moeris and Galatea

Oak Trees, Lullingstone Park, 1828

Oak Tee and Bench, Lullingstone Park, 1828

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, 1825
Beddgelert Bridge, North Wales

A Poet

The Porta Di Posillipo and The Bay of Baiae, Italy

Ploughing at Sunset

The Prospect

His painting, The Prospect, draws upon lines from Milton's delightful early poem, "L'Allegro," and converts Milton's lines to a physical landscape of reverie:

Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures
Whilst the landscape round it measures;
Russet Lawns and fallows gray
Where the nibbling flock do stray;
Mountains on whose barren breast
The labouring clouds do often rest;
meadows trim with daisies pied
Shallow brooks and rivers wide.
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosom'd high on tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure of neigh'bring eyes.

--Milton, L'Allegro, lines 69-80

The Golden Valley

The Patriach of the Orchard

Harvest in the Vineyard, 1859

Harvesting, 1851

In a Shoreham Garden

Landscape, Twilight

In Cusop Brook Near Hay On Way, Wales

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