English landscape painter and etcher. His early works, small pastoral scenes mostly painted in watercolour and sepia, have an intense, visionary quality, greatly influenced by a meeting with the aged William Blake, and the latter's engravings for Thornton's Virgil. From 1826 to 1835 he lived in Shoreham, Kent, with a group of artists who followed Blake, styling themselves ‘the Ancients’.
The son of a bookseller in Newington, Surrey, Palmer was largely self-taught as an artist, though given some instruction by John Linnell, whose daughter he married. As early as 1819 he showed three pictures at the Royal Academy, where he was impressed by Turner's Orange Merchantman. His finest works were produced while at Shoreham; visions of rural England which strive to express the spiritual significance of nature. His works from this period, now highly regarded, have had a distinct influence on the imaginative treatment of landscape in modern English art, and fine examples may be found in the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
After 1835 his style gradually became more conventional. Neither a visit to Italy (1837–39) nor a later life spent at Redhill supported by his father-in-law benefited his art, which declined into garishness and mediocrity.
Palmer, Samuel: ‘Shoreham: Twilight Time’
Palmer, Samuel: On William Blake
Palmer was the most important of the Shoreham painters, though he long outlived his association with that Kentish village,...
He was a bookseller's son, born into a religious family. He exhibited at the Royal Academy when only 14 and showed a...
He first exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of 14 but his best landscapes, often moonlit and either in sepia or...