The art of Samuel Palmer is essentially a discovery of the 20th century. Although he exhibited widely during his lifetime, and found buyers for some of his watercolours and etchings, it was not until the retrospective exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1926 that the general public were able to enter the uniquely personal world of Palmer’s early years at Shoreham. Since then, his influence on a generation of English painters including Nash, Sutherland, John Piper, and F.L. Griggs, the publications of Geoffrey Grigson, Raymond Lister and others, have made him one of the most popular of English artists.
The collection of paintings, drawings, watercolours, and etchings by Samuel Palmer in the Ashmolean Museum is the most important in the world. It is especially rich in the early works of the Shoreham period, from c. 1824 to 1835, notably the haunting self portrait and the unique group of six sepia drawings of 1825, which represent the ‘visionary landscape’ at its most intense.