Painter, etcher, and printmaker Samuel Palmer (British, 1805–1881) was precocious; he exhibited his first work at the Royal Academy in 1814, when he was only eleven years old. Ten years later, Palmer was introduced to the aged William Blake—a momentous event that stimulated the young painter to develop a visionary style. His early work also was partly shaped by his interest in the “primitive” artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth century. His subjects were familiar—trees, villages, the night sky—but his use of rich forms and vivid colors was much too bold and modern for his era. He had little commercial success with his early art and, after his marriage, felt pressure to produce paintings more in line with conventional taste. He also taught painting to remain solvent. In his later years, Palmer suffered a series of personal hardships—including the death of his favorite son—and at the end of his life, he lived as a recluse.
Although he exhibited widely during his lifetime, Palmer was largely forgotten after his death, and a great deal of his work was lost when his son burned the sketchbooks, letters, and paintings he had inherited. Palmer’s art was rediscovered during a retrospective exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1926. More recently, the British Museum collaborated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005 to stage a major retrospective of Palmer’s art.
The two watercolor paintings included in this folio are quintessential representations of the English pastoral tradition.
Published with the Manchester Art Gallery. Contains five each of the following two notecards: Sunset over the Gleaning Fields, 1855; and The Sheepshearers, 1863.