Samuel Palmer: The Poetical Landscape.pdf
Colin Harrison is Curator of British Paintings and Drawings and Curator of the Pissarro Family Archive at the Ashmolean Museum.
Since his son's biography, published in 1892, Samuel Palmer has been seen as the victim of Victorian materialism, a visionary who sacrificed his talent to the naturalism popular with the middle classes. It is generally believed that Palmer's early work of the Shoreham Period was inspired by his love of William Blake, and, after his marriage to John Linnell's eldest daughter, his later watercolours and etchings more indebted to Linnell. However, Palmer himself would have argued that his whole career was devoted to an exploration of what Linnell called the 'poetical landscape' to 'create spiritual perceptions'. Palmer was essentially self-taught, and experimented throughout his life with unconventional techniques in his determination to convey the 'infinity and endless suggestiveness' of nature. 'Samuel Palmer: A Poetical Landscape' discusses Palmer's relations with the Old Masters he admired, notably Claude Lorrain; his seniors, such as Blake and Turner; and his contemporaries, first the 'Ancients', and later his fellow members of the Watercolour Society and the Etching Club, through a close examination of the works by Palmer in the Ashmolean Museum and other collections, and a fresh reading of his letters, many of them unpublished.