- Museum number
Sketchbook bound in leather with a metal clasp, containing 28 leaves with sketches mainly of topographical views, studies of clouds and a tree, and 3 leaves without sketches; drawn on the recto, verso or occasionally both sides,
and on inside covers; subjects include views of Battersea, the river Thames, Thanet (Birchington Church and Willow Wood), Margate (the Pier, Harbour and Garner's Library), a view of the river from Richmond Hill, Chiswick, Syon House, Ashridge Park, Dunstable (including the Downs), Luton Hoo, Toddington (near the Earl of Strafford's seat), and Chalgrave in Bedfordshire. 1819
Graphite; watercolour (sometimes over graphite)
INSIDE COVER: two sketches of cows, foliage, and a human eye, inscribed "Avering near Romford - some fine Views.", "Samuel Palmer Junr Feby 1819", "Sketches from Nature".
FLY SHEET: insribed with various measurements, and "Three Quarter Frame - next size 21 by 28. The two plane frames. The long one 18 by 12 the other 14 by 17 /2. Samuel Palmer"
1 RECTO: inscribed "NB these d"
1 VERSO: Cloud study (watercolour), numbered and annotated to the left "Reference; 1 Deep Blue; 2 somewhat lighter; 3 Brilliant light of a silver yet warm hue melted & broken; 4 into a fine neutral gray; the colour of all the shadowed clouds and lighter than the azure;
5 may be produced by breaking 3 more into 4; 6 a middle tint between 4 & 5; The lights soft on the azure & touched loosely to produce a fleecing.
2 RECTO: inscribed "2; Reference; The azure is the same depth as No 1 - but more decided in the tint - the handling should be also the same - the cloud-grey warmish, & the lights of the cloud warm, the darkest grey & the darkest azure about the same depth."
2 VERSO: cloud studies (watercolour)
3 RECTO: Inscribed "View from one of the hills in Greenwich Park, Limehouse church & part of the Isle of Dogs in gt. Distance - the light to the right in md. Distance --"
4 RECTO: Study of a country lane, high hedge to the left, a cottage to the right, and a road running through the middle opening a wide vista (watercolour)
4 VERSO: Inscribed "This study though the sketch is uninteresting was very good in nature - the left hand hedge was soft at the edges & light & playful - & in the centre extremely dark; off which map the grey stones & playful foliage relieved well-some nettles & dead sprays also had effect. The willow behind the cottage was thin and playful. Friday June 11 1819 -- Sam Palmer --
5 RECTO: Study of a farmhouse, a gate and a tree to the right of the page (watercolour)
5 VERSO: Inscribed "H. Battersea; the form of this cottage is what alone causes the value of it for it consisted too much of one material to have a good effect with respect to colour -- S. Palmer -- 1819 --"
6 RECTO: Study of a country lane, low hedges to the left, high hedges and trees to the right, a cottage in the middle distance (graphite)
6 VERSO: Inscribed "Grey sky mottled with with blue a& warmish light; Lane Thanet-- S. Palmer--" and annotated corresponding to parts on the recto "This thatch very bright; This little gate very bright; elder berry very bright; br. light"
7 RECTO: Study of a rural church, cottages seen in the distance to the left of the page (graphite)
7 VERSO: Inscribed "Birchington Church Thanet S. Palmer"
8 RECTO: Study of a thatched stone farmhouse (graphite)
8VERSO: Inscribed "Willow Wood Thanet -- S. Palmer" and annotated " Bright front red brick & tile thatched"
9 RECTO: Study of Margate pier and harbour at sunset, from the beach (watercolour)
9 VERSO: Inscribed "Margate with part of the Pier & Harbour - after Sunset - S. Palmer"
10 RECTO: Study of boats in Margate harbour, with figures both in the left hand boat and stood in the sea (graphite)
10 VERSO: Inscribed "Boats with Garner's Library Margate - S. Palmer" and annotated "The boats tinged brilliant yellow brown - toward bottom olive greenish - post grey top grass rich at bottom. Garner's library Grey"
11 RECTO: Study of the panorama of the Thames from Richmond Hill (graphite)
11 VERSO: Outline study of the Thames at Chiswick from the bank, a small boat to the left (graphite); related to the drawing on 12 recto. Inscribed "View from Richmond Hill Surrey S. Palmer --"
12 RECTO: Study of the Thames at Chiswick, from the bank, buildings on the far bank to the left of the page, a tree above the towpath on the right of the page, a small sailing boat in the centre (graphite); related to the drawing on 11 verso
12 VERSO: Inscribed "Chiswick on Thames; S. Palmer 1819"
13 RECTO: Study of Sion House seen across the Thames from the Surrey bank (graphite)
13 VERSO: Inscribed "Sion House The Seat of his Grace the Duke of Northumberland"
14 RECTO: Study of a young tree, leaning to the right of the page, shrubbery to the right, inscribed "Elder" (graphite)
14 VERSO: Inscribed "Study of a young Elder Tree -- S. Palmer --"
15 RECTO: Brief study of trees in a park landscape (graphite)
15 VERSO: Inscribed "Scene in Ashridge Parl Bucks. S. Palmer -"
16 RECTO: Study of a hilly landscape seen from an elevated viewpoint under a grey sky (watercolour over graphite)
16 VERSO: Inscribed "Scene on the Dunstable Downs Beds -- S.P--; 2 De--; 3 - Luton House - View of an old Lodge, Beds - S.P."
17 RECTO: Brief study of a valley landscape from a hill, also Dunstable Downs (graphite)
17 VERSO: Study of the Lodge at Luton House, looking through the gateway (graphite)
18 RECTO: Inscribed "Cottage near Dunstable Beds. S.Palmer--"
18 VERSO: Study of a barn, with a lane in front and shrubbery along the front wall (graphite)
19 RECTO: Study of a cottage with a thatched roof, behind a wooden fence and surrounded by trees (graphite)
19 VERSO: Inscribed "Scene near Dunstable Beds. S. Palmer --"
20 RECTO: Inscribed "Scene near Dunstable Beds. S. Palmer--" and in graphite "This is not my work: it has been retouched all over S.P"
20 VERSO: Study of a cottage to the right of a lane, trees on a high bank to the left, two women walking, seemingly not by Palmer's hand (graphite)
21 RECTO: Brief study of trees overhanging a river bank, looking across the stream to the far bank (graphite)
21 VERSO: Inscribed "Scene near the Earls Strafford's Seat at Toddington, Beds. S. Palmer"
22 RECTO: Brief study of a cottage partially concealed by trees, a lane to the left (graphite)
22 VERSO: Inscribed "Cottage at Chalgrave Beds. S. Palmer --" and annotated "V dark; Very Bright."
23 RECTO: Study of a large house with a tower and rooves at different heights, surrounded by trees (graphite)
23 VERSO: Inscribed "Remains of the seat of the Earl of Strafford at Toddington murdered by the commons in the term of K. Charles the martyr -- Beds. S. Palmer --"
24 RECTO: Study of woodland, three young trees in the centre (graphite)
24 VERSO: Inscribed "Scene near the Earl Straffords seat at Toddington Beds. S. Palmer"
25 RECTO: Study of a small tent between two trees in a wood (graphite)
25 VERSO: Inscribed "Scene near the Earl Straffords seat at Toddington Beds. S. Palmer-"
26 RECTO: Study of a country lane, trees to the right, a group of houses in the distance to the left (graphite)
26 VERSO: Annotated "Misty houses in dist"
27 RECTO: Study of a thatched cottage, a wooden fence in front (graphite)
27 VERSO: Annotated "Catching", "B. Illumination", "Bright"
28 RECTO: Brief study of a country lane, a fence to the left and trees hanging over on the right (graphite)
29 RECTO: Study of a thatched cottage to the left, with an orchard to the right (graphite) annotated "Br"
30 RECTO: Illegible list, some items ticked (graphite)
INSIDE COVER: Sketches of cows, some whole, some only heads (graphite and pen and ink)
- Production date
Height: 118 millimetres
Width: 195 millimetres (covers)
- Curator's comments
- The sketchbook was first published by Luke Herrmann in 'Notes on British Art 7', a supplement to Apollo, February 1967, pp.1-3.
Palmer was fourteen when he used this sketchbook; many of the studies show the influence of contemporary drawing-manuals, notably David Cox's 'Treatise on Landscape Painting'. His interest in the sky (see 1927,0518.10) is already apparent in this sketchbook, which also includes a memorandum to himself anticipating the self-admonitory notes made in, his 1824 sketchbook (1964,1104.1(2-77)): on 11 June 1819 he scribbled on the verso of one watercolour sketch "This study though the sketch is uninteresting was very good in nature". This was also the first year in which Palmer exhibited works at the Royal Academy.
The following is the entry from W. Vaughan, E.E. Barker and C. Harrison, 'Samuel Palmer (1805-1881): Vision and Landscape', (London, BM, 2005), no.4, pp. 69-71:
This volume, which once belonged to Palmer’s brother William and was acquired by the British Museum from a member of the Palmer family, is one of two surviving sketchbooks from the artist’s early years, the other being cat. 9. It was begun in the year that Palmer first had a work exhibited – at the British Gallery in February 1819 – and was used for several months, the last date recorded being 11 July 1819 (leaf 4 verso). The drawings and watercolours in it show him developing naturalistic and topographical skills in line with the instruction he had been receiving from William Wate.
The sketchbook contains views from a wide variety of locations both around London, particularly the southern regions between Greenwich and Battersea (his favourite haunts), and further afield, notably Margate (where his grandfather William Giles lived), Thanet and places in Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.
In contrast to Palmer’s surviving sketchbook from 1824, this volume is almost entirely devoted to observed scenery. It does, however, share one feature with the later sketchbook, namely the habit of making copious verbal notes to accompany his studies. Sometimes these supplement his sense of the inadequacy of his drawing skills as in leaf 4 verso, where he writes: ‘This study though the sketch is uninteresting was very / good in nature – the left hand hedge was soft at the / edges & light & playful…’ He also wrote copious notes on colour effects.
Leaf 2 verso: Cloud Study
Palmer was very much of his time in making detailed cloud studies. This study is more conventional that the experimental ones that Constable was to make soon afterwards. It fits more in the tradition of cloud compositions created by the eighteenth-century landscapist Alexander Cozens (1717–86), whose work was much studied by artists, including Constable. Palmer’s study is remarkable for the careful numbering and key given on the side, which shows that he was trying to record the precise light effects and textures of sky and clouds.
Leaf 4 recto: Landscape
This watercolour study of a country lane with cottages and trees is similar to studies of rural scenery that formed the basis of Palmer’s first exhibited works. Like many small sepia compositions of the period, it seems to show the influence of David Cox’s Treatise on Landscape Painting.
Back cover: Cow Heads
These rapid studies of cows’ heads give some hint of the expressive line that was later to play such an important part in Palmer’s visionary work. In line with his predominantly pastoral subject matter, Palmer’s most habitual animal in his mature work was not cows but sheep.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1966/7 BM, Recent Acquisitions, no.55
1969 Nov-Dec, Norwich, Castle Museum, 'A Decade of English Naturalism', no.34
1970 Jan-Feb, London, V&A, 'A Decade of English Naturalism', no.34
1973 London, Tate Gallery, 'Landscape in Britain c.1750-1850', no.289
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.172
2005/6 Oct-Jan, BM, 'Samuel Palmer (1805-1881): Vision and Landscape'
2006 Mar-May, New York, Met Mus of Art, 'Samuel Palmer (1805-1881): Vision and Landscape'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- William Palmer (1810-1866), younger brother of the artist, who was an attendant at the British Museum in London; J. Alledey Palmer, possibly a cousin of the artist; John Palmer, grandson of J. Alledey Palmer, from whom purchased by the Museum, 1966
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number