Friday, December 12, 2014

Samuel Palmer, A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star

Samuel Palmer, A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star, c1830
7.76 x 10.16 in.

Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) was a British landscape painter and printmaker, as well as a writer. His pastoral landscapes are considered a visionary and important contribution to British Romanticism.  Palmer first exhibited at the Royal Academy at age fourteen.  In 1824, Palmer met Williams Blake, who prove very influential to the young painter, encouraging him to pursue his vision of pastoral inncence.  Some of Palmer's paintings, such as Garden in Shoreham show the beautiful simplicity of the natural world.  One pair of paintings, A Hilly Scene and Coming from Evening Church show the balanced relationship of the natural, human, and divine.  In addition to showing the influence of Blake, these paintings also show a trajectory from Romanticism to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  A Cornfield by Moonlight with the Evening Star is a beautiful example of Palmer's best work.  This small painting, painted when Palmer lived in relative isolation in the village of Shoreham, shows a shepherd and his dog walking alongside a field at night, while large hills rise up in the background.  The moon is rather large, but casts an unrealistically bright light on the scene.  The entire field pulsates with the richness of the moonlight.  While the scene is not very detailed, with most of the elements communicated with gestures rather than careful brushwork, the tenor of the scene is communicated quite effectively.