Samuel Palmer Shadows on the Wall William Vaughan

Publication date:
29 Jun 2015
Paul Mellon Centre
412 pages: 279 x 241mm
180 color + 120 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Samuel Palmer (1805–1881) was one of the leading British landscape painters of the 19th century. Inspired by his mentor, the artist and poet William Blake, Palmer brought a new spiritual intensity to his interpretation of nature, producing works of unprecedented boldness and fervency. Pre-eminent scholar William Vaughan—who organized the Palmer retrospective at the British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005—draws on unpublished diaries and letters, offering a fresh interpretation of one of the most attractive and sympathetic, yet idiosyncratic, figures of the 19th century. Far from being a recluse, as he is often presented, Palmer was actively engaged in Victorian cultural life and sought to exert a moral power through his artwork. Beautifully illustrated with Palmer's visionary and enchanted landscapes, the book contains rich studies of his work, influences, and resources. Vaughan also shows how later, enthralled by the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Palmer manipulated his own artistic image to harmonize with it. Little appreciated in his lifetime, Palmer is now hailed as a precursor of modernism in the 20th century.

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For a look inside Samuel Palmer: Shadows on the Wall visit the YaleBooks blog.

William Vaughan is professor emeritus of history of art at Birkbeck College at the University of London. 

“Vaughan’s magisterial, readable account gives us the whole story of this artist whose work still resonates and surprises.”—Ruth Guilding, Evening Standard

“At every point, Vaughan refuses to comply with the image of Palmer as an isolated visionary, doing him far greater justice instead by painting a rich portrait of the age as well of the man: where he was influenced and where he influenced, where he triumphed and where he fell short.”—Alice Spawls, TLS

“[A] substantial, fully illustrated, color monograph . . . [that] presents Palmer’s career chronologically and comprehensively.”—K. Rhodes, Choice

“Vaughan’s Samuel Palmer, with its many gorgeously reproduced images, shows Palmer’s deeply rural world . . . Palmer was an artist of an imaginary, unspoiled Arcadian England that nonetheless referenced contemporary costume and details of domestic architecture.”—Kate Flint, Public Books