Samuel Palmer:
The artist Samuel Palmer is getting some long-deserved public recognition, and not just in the quality press. I was even approached by a 20 year-old student in my university library this week: “Er… I had you last year for a course. I wonder… do you know an artist called… William Blake?” It turned out she was personally interested in his influence, and I was able to lead her straight away to pluck Binyon’s fine 1925 The Followers of William Blake off the shelf. And in the press, more reviews of the major Palmer retrospective at the British Museum are coming in. The Telegraph, annoyingly, offers only a lacklustre potted biography not even attempting to disguise itself as a review. The CSM, on the other hand, gives us a moving personal appreciation, and the IHT review is very informed and thoughtful. The Financial Times is star-struck (but behind a pay-to-view firewall): “you round a corner into an area reserved for the years 1823-25 and your mouth drops open in astonishment.” The Guardian slips in a little extra with a background interview with the Director who has revived the British Museum. The Palmer show is on there until 22nd January 2006, when it goes to MoMA in New York. So mid-January seems the best time to travel to see it, if you’re outside London; the trains will be quiet, and his pastorals will seem all the more magical in the post-New Year gloom & lull. If you can’t get to London, Thames & Hudson are to re-print Palmer’s only surviving Shoreham-period sketchbook, Samuel Palmer: The Sketchbook of 1824 – the rest of the sketchbooks having been deliberately burned by Palmer’s dismal son. There is also the exhibition catalogue itself: Samuel Palmer (1805-1881): Vision And Landscape, which is decidedly more affordable than the 1988 Catalogue Raisonné ¯f the Works of Samuel Palmer (around $500, even if you can find a copy for sale).