Pen and ink on paper, inscribed ‘Redhill’ and dated ‘June 24th 1872’ lower left
Image size: 4 x 8 inches (10 x 20 cm)
Given to Ernest Pearce by Carlos Peacock, from the collection of Miss Louisa Twining (1820-1911), a pupil of Samuel Palmer.
Carlos noted in his letter accompanying the work to Ernest Pearce that ‘Going through my Palmer things for mounting the other day. I found this little sketch dating from the Redhill days. Thought you might like it by way of a Christmas gift’.
Carlos Peacock, Samuel Palmer , Shoreham and After, published by John Baker 1968, illustrated on page 67.
This delicate pen and ink drawing depicts a view at Redhill, a town in the borough of Reigate within the county of Surrey, England. While Palmer’s reputation rests mainly on his Shoreham work some of his later work, such as his sketches from Redhill, have recently received more appreciation.
In 1872 Palmer was living in Redhill, at his last home, The Chantry at Cronks Hill. The Chantry is now Grade II listed due to the Palmer connection and Palmer Close, a cul-de-sac in Redhill (built in the 1960’s), was also named in his honour.
This work is an illustration of rural paradise, a vision of the natural world where there is a cosmic harmony between man and his environment. Indeed, Alfred Palmer, the artist’s son, wrote ‘Had the artist depended for his material solely on the fields, and woods, and hills around him, and had he used that material in a sordid way, he might have given us faithful representations of those he selected, but there would have been inevitable repetition, and he would never have shown us as he has undoubtedly done, the very spirit and quintessence of the loveliest and most poetic pastoral scenery – scenery which we may imagine as that of ancient England, when shepherds piped upon their pipes, and the clouds dropped fatness’.
Samuel Palmer was a British landscape painter, etcher and printmaker. He also was a prolific writer and was a key figure in Romanticism in Britain and produced visionary pastoral paintings.
Palmer was born in London, the son of a bookseller and a nurse. Palmer painted churches from around age twelve, and first exhibited Turner-inspired works at the Royal Academy at the age of fourteen. Through John Linnell, he met William Blake in 1824. Blake’s influence can be seen in work he produced over the next ten years (generally reckoned to be his greatest). The works were landscapes around Shoreham, near Sevenoaks in the west of Kent. 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.
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. Palmer turned more to watercolour which was gaining popularity in England.
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’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 Douro Place, 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.
Palmer died in Redhill, Surrey, and is buried with his wife in St Mary’s, Reigate churchyard.