The Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges has 5 prints by Palmer
Samuel Palmer (1805-81) was one of Britain’s greatest artists. He painted familiar scenes – trees, villages, the night sky – but using rich forms and vivid colors. Many are surprised that works that look so bold and modern were painted nearly two centuries ago. Palmer became an artist at a young age and was strongly influenced throughout his career by the work of his friend and mentor William Blake. Palmer’s early work was partly shaped by his interest in the ‘primitive’ artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth century. For a time, he lived in the Kent village of Shoreham, whose surrounding countryside became his ‘Valley of Vision’. After this he married and spent time in Italy; following his return to London he worked in watercolor and took up etching. In his later years, Palmer suffered a series of personal hardships – including the death of his favorite son – and ended his life living as a recluse.
Palmer, Samuel (1805-81, England) Moeris and Galatea, 1880. Etching, 13 x 19 cm. Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32. hws-p-1.
Samuel Palmer died in 1881 and left this plate in an advanced state of completion; the final details were finished by his son. Samuel Palmer had planned a series of ten etched illustrations to accompany the publication of his translation of An English Version of the Eclogues of Virgil as his last major project. However, by the time of his death in 1881, only one etching had been completed. He left the plate of Moeris and Galatea and three other etched plates in an advanced state, but still uncompleted. The final details of this etched work were completed by A.H. Palmer according to his father’s instructions. This etching was designed to accompany Samuel Palmer’s translation of the follow passage from Virgil’s verse:
The cream-bowl set and in our cave recline,
(Its brows with poplar shaded, watch the West),
And timely, with the sun, together rest.
Palmer, Samuel (1805-81, England) Opening the Fold-Early Morning, 1880. Etching, 16 x 23 cm. Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32. hws-p-2.
Samuel Palmer’s last completed etching. Samuel Palmer had planned a series of ten etched illustrations to accompany the publication of his translation of the Eclogues of Virgil as his last major project. However, by the time of his death in 1881, only this etching had been completed. He left four other etched plates unfinished – the final details of these four other etched works were completed by A.H. Palmer according to his father’s instructions. This etching was designed to accompany Samuel Palmer’s translation of Virgil’s verse:
Or folded flocks were loose to browse anew
O’er mountain thyme or trefoil wet with dew,
It seems fitting that Samuel Palmer’s last completed etching should have been so perfect a vision of pastoral beauty. This work represents the culmination of a lifetime’s experience in etching and the truly remarkable interplay of light across every aspect of this design is testament to the genius which Samuel Palmer had developed over the years. The extraordinary variety of effect throughout the sky makes dramatic comparison with Samuel Palmer’s first etched work The Willow; whilst every aspect of the artist’s handling, from the illuminated coats of the foreground sheep, to the smoke drifting from the cottage chimney beyond, display the touch of a consummate master of his art.
Palmer, Samuel (1805-81, England) The Early Ploughman, 1861-68. Etching, 17 x 25 cm. Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32. hws-p-3.
Considered one of Palmer’s finest compositions, and now quite scarce.
Rural scene showing a ploughman driving a pair of oxen, with plough, towards the left of the image. Birds are taking flight above a bridge to the left of the scene and a figure holding a pot on their head is standing by a line of trees to the right.
Palmer, Samuel (1805-81, England) The Herdsman’s Cottage, 1850. Etching, 12 x 10 cm. Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32. hws-p-4.
A beautiful example of Samuel Palmer’s romantic pastoral vision, the ingenious handling of light throughout this etched work is truly remarkable. The year 1850 represents the turning point in Samuel Palmer’s abilities as an etcher, for it was in this year that he unlocked the secret of how to portray the true poetry of nature with a charm which had never been seen in etching before the publication of The Skylark and his creation of this brilliant etching of Sunset – The Herdsman’s Cottage.
Palmer, Samuel (1805-81, England) The Weary Ploughman, 1858. Etching, 19 x 27 cm. Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32. hws-p-5.
In the 1850s, however, he took up etching, and produced a sequence of prints in which he recaptured some of the intensity of his visionary Shoreham years. Many of them are twilight or dawn scenes, combining memories of Shoreham with those of his later visit to Italy and his admiration for Claude. Palmer began this plate in May 1858, and etched it in six weeks, reworking it several times. Its alternative title, ‘The Herdsman’, may be more apt, since ploughing would not usually take place during the same month, May, that horse-chestnuts are in blossom.
Lister, Raymond. A catalogue raisonné of the works of Samuel Palmer / Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. QUARTO N6797.P237 A4 1988
Vaughan, William, Samuel Palmer, 1805-1881: vision and landscape / Burlington, VT: Lund Humphries, c2005. N6797.P237 A4 2005
Lister, Raymond. Samuel Palmer and his etchings. New York, Watson-Guptill Publications  NE2195.P218 L5 1969b
Samuel Palmer and the pastoral convention; Beulah and Arcadia. By: PRESSLY, William L. Jr. Record of the Princeton University Art Museum, 1969, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p22-37, 16p