Samuel Palmer, Classical River Scene, watercolour and gouache on card


Samuel Palmer, Classical River


Height: 23.100 cm
Width: 35.200 cm

PD 1958-7-12-360


This representation of late evening is quiet and meditative, even idyllic. The sun has already set, leaving a purplish glow in the sky; the moon and the evening star can be seen in the clear sky above. There is a sense of the chill of early autumn in the colours. Dark-coloured birds, probably rooks, are circling in the sky above the castle on the river, while a single white bird flies across the river.

In the foreground, on a promontory overlooking the river, there is a shepherd and his family. He pipes while leaning against a tree while his wife - in deep blue costume - tends the baby who gestures in excitement at the sight of the birds. Lower down, on the other bank of the river, travellers are making their way along a narrow path in the direction of the castle.

The theme and treatment are similar to some of the Milton subjects included in this section of the tour, in particular A Towered City and The Lonely Tower. However there is no evidence in this case of Palmer illustrating a particular text.