British Museum collections, £12.99
Height: 15.200 cm
Width: 15.000 cm
Prints and Drawings
Samuel Palmer, Drawing for The Bright Cloud, Indian ink with scratching out
Shoreham, Kent, about AD 1831-32
Samuel Palmer (1805-81) was one of Britain's greatest artists. From about 1819, he was fascinated with clouds and began to make careful studies of their colouring and shape in his sketchbook. This interest culminated in two paintings now known as The Bright Cloud and The White Cloud, both dated to 1833-34.
Although the present work is known as 'Drawing for The Bright Cloud', it bears little relation to the painting of the same name. The foreground of the drawing is occupied by a shepherd and shepherdess tending a flock of sheep, whereas the painting shows a procession of villagers making their way home. However, both the drawing and the painting are dominated by a billowing cumulus cloud. While Palmer's contemporary, Constable, made a scientific study of clouds, for Palmer they were a symbol of the divine in nature.
The drawing demonstrates Palmer's mastery of working in monochrome. He created the white of the clouds and highlights mostly by leaving the paper blank, with only a little scratching out to finish.
W. Vaughan, E. Barker and C. Harrison, Samuel Palmer, 1805-1881: visi (London, The British Museum Press, 2005)