Samuel Palmer

© 2005 Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

The Magic Apple Tree

Samuel Palmer (1805-81) was one of Britain's greatest artists. He painted familiar scenes - trees, villages, the night sky - but using rich forms and vivid colours. Many are surprised that works that look so bold and modern were painted nearly two centuries ago.

Palmer became an artist at a young age and was strongly influenced throughout his career by the work of his friend and mentor William Blake. Palmer's early work was partly shaped by his interest in the 'primitive' artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth century. For a time, he lived in the Kent village of Shoreham, whose surrounding countryside became his 'Valley of Vision'. After this he married and spent time in Italy; following his return to London he worked in watercolour and took up etching. In his later years, Palmer suffered a series of personal hardships - including the death of his favourite son - and ended his life living as a recluse.

This tour was written to accompany the exhibition Samuel Palmer: vision and landscape, at the British Museum from 21 October 2005 to 22 January 2006. It marked the 200th anniversary of Palmer's birth and brought together his finest pictures from collections around the world.

Supported by the American Friends of the British Museum
Organised by the British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art