Samuel Palmer

Samuel Palmer RWS Hon.RE (Hon. Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers) (27 January 1805 – 24 May 1881) was a British landscape painter, etcher and printmaker. He was also a prolific writer. Palmer was a key figure in Romanticism in Britain and produced visionary pastoral paintings.

Samuel Palmer
Samuel Palmer - Self-Portrait - WGA16951
Self portrait, circa 1826
Samuel Palmer

27 January 1805
Died24 May 1881 (aged 76)
Redhill, Surrey
Known forPainting, printmaking, drawing,
Notable work
Garden In Shoreham,
MovementThe Ancients

Early life

Palmer, who was born in Surrey Square off the Old Kent Road in Newington, London,[1] was the son of a bookseller and sometime Baptist minister, and was raised by a pious nurse. Palmer painted churches from around age twelve, and first exhibited Turner-inspired works at the Royal Academy at the age of fourteen. He had little formal training, and little formal schooling, although he was educated briefly at Merchant Taylors' School.[2]


Samuel Palmer 002
In a Shoreham Garden. 1820s or early 1830s

Through John Linnell, he met William Blake in 1824. Blake's influence can be seen in work he produced over the next ten years and generally reckoned to be his greatest. The works were landscapes around Shoreham, near Sevenoaks in the west of Kent. He purchased a run-down cottage, nicknamed "Rat Abbey", and lived there from 1826 to 1835, depicting the area as a demi-paradise, mysterious and visionary, often shown in sepia shades under moon and star light. There Palmer associated with a group of Blake-influenced artists known as the Ancients (including George Richmond and Edward Calvert). They were among the few who saw the Shoreham paintings as, resulting from attacks by critics in 1825, he opened his early portfolios only to selected friends.

Palmer's somewhat disreputable father – Samuel Palmer senior – moved to the area, his brother Nathaniel having offered him an allowance that would "make him a gentleman" and restore the good name of the family. Samuel Palmer senior rented half of the Queen Anne-era 'Waterhouse' which still stands by the River Darent at Shoreham and is now known as the 'Water House'. Palmer's nurse, Mary Ward, and his other son William joined him there. The Waterhouse was used to accommodate overflow guests from "Rat Abbey". In 1828 Samuel Palmer left "Rat Abbey" to join his father at Water House and lived there for the rest of his time in Shoreham. While at Shoreham he fell in love with the fourteen-year-old Hannah Linnell, whom he later married.


Palmer. A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star. Watercolour with bodycolour and pen and ink c.1830.
A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star c. 1830

After returning to London in 1835, and using a small legacy to purchase a house in Marylebone, Palmer produced less mystical and more conventional work. Part of his reason in returning to London was to sell his work and earn money from private teaching. He had better health on his return to London, and was by then married to Hannah, daughter of the painter John Linnell who he had known since she was a child, and married when she was nineteen and he was thirty-two. He sketched in Devonshire and Wales around this time. His peaceful vision of rural England had been disrupted by the violent rural discontent of the early 1830s. His small financial legacy was running out and he decided to produce work more in line with public taste if he was to earn an income for himself and his wife. He was following the advice of his father-in-law. Linnell, who had earlier shown remarkable understanding of the uniqueness of William Blake's genius, was not as generous with his son-in-law, towards whom his attitude was authoritarian and often harsh.

Palmer turned more to watercolour which was gaining popularity in England. To further a commercial career, the couple embarked on a two-year honeymoon to Italy, made possible by money from Hannah's parents in 1837. In Italy Palmer's palette became brighter, sometimes to the point of garishness, but he made many fine sketches and studies that would later be useful in producing new paintings. On his return to London, Palmer sought patrons with limited success. For more than two decades he was obliged to work as a private drawing master, until he moved from London in 1862. To add to his financial worries, he returned to London to find his dissolute brother William had pawned all his early paintings, and Palmer was obliged to pay a large sum to redeem them. By all accounts Palmer was an excellent teacher, but the work with uninspired students reduced the time he could devote to his own art.

Later years

From the early 1860s he gained some measure of critical success for his later landscapes, which had a touch of the early Shoreham work about them – most notable is the etching of The Lonely Tower (1879). He became a full member of the Water Colour Society in 1854, and its annual show gave him a yearly goal to work towards.

Palmer. A Dream in the Appenine c.1864 (watercolor and gouache on paper laid on wood) Tate Britain
A Dream in the Apennine (c. 1864)

His best late works include a series of large watercolours illustrating Milton's poems L'Allegro and Il Penseroso and his etchings, a medium in which he worked from 1850 onwards, including a set illustrating Virgil.

Palmer's later years were darkened by the death in 1861, at the age of 19, of his elder son Thomas More Palmer – a devastating blow from which he never fully recovered. He lived in various places later in his life, including a small cottage and an unaffordable villa both in Kensington, where he lived at 6 Drouro Place,[3] then a cottage at Reigate. But it was only when a small measure of financial security came his way, that was he able to move to Furze Hill House in Redhill, Surrey, from 1862. He could not afford to have a daily newspaper delivered to Redhill, suggesting that his financial circumstances there were still tight.

Samuel Palmer died in Redhill, Surrey, and is buried with his wife in Reigate churchyard.


Palmer was largely forgotten after his death. In 1909, many of his Shoreham works were destroyed by his surviving son Alfred Herbert Palmer, who burnt "a great quantity of father's handiwork ... Knowing that no one would be able to make head or tail of what I burnt; I wished to save it from a more humiliating fate". The destruction included "sketchbooks, notebooks, and original works, and lasted for days". It wasn't until 1926 that Palmer's rediscovery began through a show curated by Martin Hardie at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Drawings, Etchings and Woodcuts made by Samuel Palmer and other Disciples of William Blake. But it took until the early 1950s for his reputation to recover, stimulated by Geoffrey Grigson's 280-page book Samuel Palmer (1947) and later by an exhibition of the Shoreham work in 1957 and by Grigson's 1960 selection of Palmer's writing. His reputation rests mainly on his Shoreham work, but some of his later work has recently received more appreciation.

The Shoreham work has had a powerful influence on many English artists after being rediscovered. Palmer was a notable influence on F. L. Griggs, Robin Tanner, Graham Sutherland, Paul Drury, Joseph Webb, Eric Ravilious, John Minton, the glass engraving of Laurence Whistler, and Clifford Harper. He also inspired a resurgence in twentieth-century landscape printmaking, which began amongst students at Goldsmiths' College in the 1920s. (See: Jolyon Drury, 2006)

In 2005 the British Museum collaborated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to stage the first major retrospective of his work, timed to coincide with the bicentenary of Palmer's birth. The show ran from October 2005 to January 2006, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, March – May 2006.


  • An address to the Electors of West Kent: Pamphlet 1832
  • The 1861 Lives Balance Sheet: Epitaph on death of his son Thomas More Palmer
  • On going to Shoreham, Kent to design from Ruth: A prayer, 1826
  • With pipe and rural chaunt along: A poem, Samuel Palmer's Sketchbook 1824, British Museum Facsimile Published by William Blake Trust in 1862


  1. ^ Samuel Palmer on the British Museum Website Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Minchin, J. G. C., Our public schools, their influence on English history; Charter house, Eton, Harrow, Merchant Taylors', Rugby, St. Paul's Westminster, Winchester (London, 1901), p. 195.
  3. ^ Denny, Barbara; Starren, Carolyn (1998). Kensington Past. London, U.K.: Historical Publications. p. 114. ISBN 9780948667503. OCLC 42308455. The residents were somewhat lower perhaps on the social scale, but many had distinguished artistic reputations such as the sculptor Alfred Stevens, at 7 Canning Place, and the painter, Samuel Palmer, at 6 Drouro Place, 1851–61.


  • Campbell-Johnston, Rachel (2011). Mysterious Wisdom: The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer. London, Bloomsbury.
  • Drury, Jolyon (2006). Revelation to Revolution: The Legacy of Samuel Palmer. The Revival and Evolution of Pastoral Printmaking by Paul Drury and the Goldsmiths School in the 20th Century. (Self-published.) ISBN 978-0-9552148-0-6
  • Herring, Sarah (1988). "Samuel Palmer's Shoreham drawings in Indian ink: a matter of light and shade". Apollo vol. 148, no. 441 (November 1998), pp. 37–42.
  • Lister, Raymond (1974). Samuel Palmer, A Biography Faber and Faber, London ISBN 0-571-09732-4
  • Lister, Raymond ed The Letters of Samuel Palmer OUP, Oxford 1974. ISBN 978-0-19-817309-0
  • Lister, Raymond (1988). Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of Samuel Palmer. Cambridge University Press.
  • Lister, Raymond (1986). The Paintings of Samuel Palmer. Cambridge University Press, 1986.
  • Palmer, A. H. (1892). The Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer Painter and Etcher (1892; facsimile reprint 1972).
  • Shaw-Miller, S. and Smiles, S. eds (2010). Samuel Palmer Revisited. Ashgate, 2010. ISBN 978-0-7546-6747-6
  • Twohig, E. (2018) "Print REbels: Haden - Palmer - Whistler and the origins of the RE", Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, London. ISBN 978-1-5272-1775-1
  • Vaughan, W. and Barker, E. E. (2005). Samuel Palmer 1805-1881 Vision and Landscape. [Exhibition catalogue, British Museum, London, & Metropolitan Museum, New York.]
  • Vaughan, W. (2015). Samuel Palmer: Shadows on the wall. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

External links

1826 in art

Events in the year 1826 in Art.

Ancients (art group)

The Ancients (also known as the Shoreham Ancients) were a group of young English artists and others who were brought together around 1824 by their attraction to archaism in art and admiration for the work of William Blake (1757–1827), who was a generation or two older than the group. The core members of the Ancients were Samuel Palmer, George Richmond, and Edward Calvert. Except for Palmer, the central members who were artists were all students at the Royal Academy of Arts. They met in Blake's apartment, dubbed the "House of Interpreter" and at the home of Samuel Palmer in the Kent village of Shoreham. The Ancients made little impact on the English artistic scene during the ten years or so that the group continued, but several members were later significant artists, and interest in the group has gradually increased since the late 19th-century.

They were the first English manifestation of the formalised artistic "brotherhood", an artistic movement whose aims included elements of communal living and promotion of a general vision for society. Continental groups of this sort included the German Nazarene movement and the Barbus in Paris, and the most successful later English example was to be the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Like these groups they represented an oppositional break-away from the academic art establishment, and looked back to an idealized version of the past. They pursued equality among their members as a reaction to the hierarchical structure of the conventional art world. Like Nazarenes and Barbus, they promoted the wearing of special revivalist costume, though only Palmer seems often to have worn it in practice; it seems to be shown in some portraits of Palmer by Richmond such as the bust-length miniature and chalk drawing (1829, both National Portrait Gallery), which shows a round-necked pleated smock under a coat with a loose untidy collar and lapels, combined with somewhat Christ-like long hair and a beard. The Ancients were probably aware of the Nazarenes, but probably not of the Barbus.

Ernest Palmer, 1st Baron Palmer

(Samuel) Ernest Palmer, 1st Baron Palmer (28 March 1858 - 8 December 1948), known as Sir Ernest Palmer, 1st Baronet, from 1916, was a British business man and patron of music.

Palmer was the eldest son of Samuel Palmer, of Hampstead. He was educated at Malvern College. He was a Director of the family firm of Huntley & Palmers Ltd of Reading, Berkshire, the largest biscuit manufacturer in the world. However, Palmer is mostly known for his services to music. He was Vice-President and a Member of the Council of the Royal College of Music and was elected its first Fellow in 1921 He was the founder of the Royal College of Music Patron's Fund, the Berkshire Scholarship and the Ernest Palmer Fund for Opera Study. He was created a Baronet, of Grosvenor Crescent in the City of Westminster in 1916, and on 24 June 1933 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Palmer, of Reading in the County of Berkshire.Lord Palmer married Amy Christiana, daughter of George Swan Nottage, Lord Mayor of London, in 1881. She died in 1947. Lord Palmer survived her by a year and died in December 1948, aged 90. He was succeeded in his titles by his son Cecil.

F. L. Griggs

Frederick Landseer Maur Griggs, RA, RE (30 October 1876 – 7 June 1938) was a distinguished English etcher, architectural draughtsman, illustrator, and early conservationist, associated with the late flowering of the Arts and Crafts movement in the Cotswolds. He was one of the first etchers to be elected to full membership of the Royal Academy.

Born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, he worked as an illustrator for the Highways and Byways series of regional guides for the publishers, Macmillans. In 1903 he settled at Dover's House, in the market town of Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds, and went on to create one of the last significant Arts and Crafts houses at 'New Dover's House'. There he set up the Dover's House Press, where he printed late proofs of the etchings of Samuel Palmer, amongst others. He collaborated with Ernest Gimson and the Sapperton group of craftsmen in architectural and design work in the area.

Francis Oliver Finch

Francis Oliver Finch (1802–1862), was an English watercolour painter, and a member of The Ancients, the group of young artists formed around Samuel Palmer and the elderly

William Blake in the 1820s.

Jak oni śpiewają (season 5)

The 6th season of Jak oni śpiewają, the Polish edition of Soapstar Superstar, started on March 7, 2009 and ended on May 23, 2009. It was broadcast by Polsat. Joanna Liszowska and Krzysztof Ibisz continued as the hosts, and the judges were: Edyta Górniak, Elżbieta Zapendowska and Rudi Schuberth.

James Smetham

James Smetham (9 September 1821 – 5 February 1889) was an English Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painter and engraver, a follower of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.Smetham was born in Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire, and attended school in Leeds; he was originally apprenticed to an architect before deciding on an artistic career. He studied at the Royal Academy, beginning in 1843. His modest early success as a portrait painter was stifled by the development of photography (a problem shared by other artists of the time). In 1851 Smetham took a teaching position at the Wesleyan Normal College in Westminster; in 1854 he married Sarah Goble, a fellow teacher at the school. They would eventually have six children.

Smetham worked in a range of genres, including religious and literary themes as well as portraiture; but he is perhaps best known as a landscape painter. His "landscapes have a visionary quality" reminiscent of the work of William Blake, John Linnell, and Samuel Palmer. Out of a lifetime output of some 430 paintings and 50 etchings, woodcuts, and book illustrations, his 1856 painting The Dream is perhaps his best-known work but his signal work is The Hymn of the Last Supper a very ambitious subject for him to undertake but one which worked out magnificently. His choice of subject was sometimes somewhat bizarre; one of his best paintings is The Death of Earl Siward which depicts the dying earl, dressed in full armour, standing up and being supported by his servants as 'He did not wish to die lying down like a cow'.

He was also an essayist and art critic; an article on Blake (in the form of a review of Alexander Gilchrist's Life of William Blake), which appeared in the January 1869 issue of the Quarterly Review, influenced and advanced recognition of Blake's artistic importance. Other Smetham articles for the Review were "Religious Art in England" (1861), "The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds" (1866), and "Alexander Smith" (1868). He also wrote some poetry.

Smetham was a devout Methodist, and after a mental breakdown in 1857, the second half of his life was marked by a growing religious mania and eventual insanity. "In one of his notebooks he attempted to illustrate every verse in the Bible." (Smetham habitually created miniature, postage-stamp-sized pen-and-ink drawings, in a process he called "squaring." He produced thousands of these in his lifetime.) He suffered a final breakdown in 1877 and lived in seclusion until his death.

Smetham's letters, posthumously published by his widow, throw light upon Rossetti, John Ruskin, and other contemporaries, and have been praised for their literary and spiritual qualities. His surviving journals and notebooks show that Smetham practiced an almost stream of consciousness type of writing that he called "ventilating," as a method of religious self-analysis. These writings delineate the depression that came to dominate Smetham's outlook.

John Hinde Palmer

John Hinde Palmer (1808 – 2 June 1884) was an English barrister and Liberal Party politician who sat in the House of Commons in two periods between 1868 and 1884.

Palmer was the son of Samuel Palmer of Dulwich Common and his wife Mary Hinde, daughter of L Hinde. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1832 and became Queen's Counsel in 1859. He was a J.P. and Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey and Bencher and treasurer of Lincoln's Inn.Palmer stood for parliament unsuccessfully at Lincoln in 1857 and 1859 general elections and at a by-election in 1862. At the 1868 general election he was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Lincoln, but lost the seat in 1874. He was re-elected in 1880 and held the seat until his death at the age of 75 in 1884.Palmer married Clara Maria D'eyncourt, daughter of Charles Tennyson D'Eyncourt of Bayons Manor Lincolnshire. He died at St George's Square, London on 2 June 1884 and was buried at West Norwood Cemetery.

John Linnell (painter)

John Linnell (16 June 1792 – 20 January 1882) was an English landscape and portrait painter and engraver. Linnell was a naturalist and a rival to John Constable. He had a taste for Northern European art of the Renaissance, particularly Albrecht Dürer. He also associated with William Blake, to whom he introduced Samuel Palmer and others of the Ancients.

John Virtue

John Virtue is an English artist who specialises in monochrome landscapes. He is honorary Professor of Fine Art at the University of Plymouth, and from 2003–2005 was the sixth Associate Artist at London's National Gallery.Virtue was born in Accrington, Lancashire in 1947. He trained at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1965 to 1969. In 1971 he moved to Green Haworth, near Oswaldtwistle, painting landscapes for two years before abandoning painting in favour of pen and ink drawings comprising dense networks of lines akin to the work of Samuel Palmer.From 1978 he worked as a postman, giving this up in 1985 to work as a full-time artist. He lived in Devon from 1988–2004.Maintaining a studio in Exeter, he produced works around the Exe estuary, before being offered the post of Associate Artist at the National Gallery. This scheme engages contemporary artists to produce work that "connects to the National Gallery Collection" and demonstrates "the continuing inspiration of the Old Master tradition".


Meadvale or less commonly Mead Vale is a southern residential suburb that straddles borders of Redhill and Reigate in the borough of Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, and one of two which do so. The average elevation of the district is higher than the centres of each of the towns – Meadvale is bisected east-west by the Greensand Way at the top of a moderately low section of the Greensand Ridge. Its population, as broadly defined on its ward definition, is 3,090 spread over 64 hectares (160 acres) based upon the most recent national census.

Rachel Campbell-Johnston

Rachel Campbell-Johnston is The Times newspaper's chief art critic.

Appointed to her post in 2002, she has also been her newspaper's poetry editor, leader writer, deputy comment editor, obituary writer and deputy books editor.Mysterious Wisdom, her biography of artist Samuel Palmer was published in 2011. The Child's Elephant, a novel about an African boy who rears an elephant, set against the backdrop of child soldiers fighting for a rebel army was published in 2013 and shortlisted for the Carnegie Prize.

Raymond Lister

Raymond Lister (1919–2001) was an English blacksmith/ironworker, author, artist, and a leading authority on Samuel Palmer.

Robin Tanner

Robin Tanner (1904–1988) was an English artist, etcher and printmaker. He followed in the visionary tradition of Samuel Palmer and English neo-romanticism. He lived in London, at Kington Langley in Wiltshire, and at Bath.

Sam Saunders (golfer)

Samuel Palmer Saunders (born July 30, 1987) is an American professional golfer and the grandson of Arnold Palmer.

Samuel Palmer (biographer)

Samuel Palmer (1741–1813) was an English nonconformist minister, known as a biographer.

Samuel Palmer (printer)

Samuel Palmer (died 1732) was an English printer and author.

Samuel Palmer Brooks

Samuel Palmer Brooks (December 4, 1863 – May 4, 1931) was the President of Baylor University from 1902 to 1931.

Shoreham, Kent

Shoreham is a village and civil parish in the Sevenoaks District of Kent, England. The parish includes the settlements of Badgers Mount and Well Hill, and is located 5 miles north of Sevenoaks.

The probable derivation of the name is estate at the foot of a steep slope. Steep slope was from the Saxon word scor. pronounced shor, but written sore by Norman scribes.

The village of Shoreham contains four traditional independent pubs: Ye Olde George Inne, The King's Arms, The Two Brewers and the Crown; with another in nearby Twitton.

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