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Samuel Palmer, 1805–1881, British, active in Italy (1837–39)

A Moonlit Scene with a Winding River

Additional Title(s):

Verso: Pen and Ink Sketches

Moonlight Scene with a Winding River

ca. 1827
Black and brown wash, gouache, and gum on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 10 1/2 x 7 1/8 inches (26.7 x 18.1 cm)

T.E. Lowinskiy collector's mark

Inscribed in pen and black ink, verso, center left: "From the collection of A. H. Palmer - 3863 24th Avenue West - Vancouver. BC. | Exhibited at Victoria and Albert Museum Oct. 1926 to Feb 1927 - at the Palmer exhibition | Number 60 in the official Catalogue. | Sold at Christie March 4th 1929 --"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
forest | landscape | moon | moonlight | night | river | trees
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The years that Palmer spent in Shoreham were the happiest and most creative of his life. Palmer had first visited the village in Kent, southeast of London, in 1824, and stayed there with the Ancients periodically over the next few years. In 1828, his father, retired from bookselling, rented a house in Shoreham, and Palmer moved in with him. Money left him by his grandfather allowed Palmer to pursue his art without concern for making a living. Throughout his years in Shoreham, Palmer produced monochrome drawings in black and brown ink and watercolor that he referred to as his “blacks.” Indebted to Blake’s wood engraved “Illustrations to Robert Thornton’s Pastorals of Virgil” (1821) for their simple forms of landscape, figures, and animals and for their crepuscular atmosphere, these drawings frequently depicted moonlit scenes that perhaps reflect the nocturnal wanderings of the Ancients in the countryside around Shoreham. “A Moonlight Scene with a Winding River” is one of the more densely worked up of these “blacks” with a heavy admixture of opaque white paint. The landscape seems to pulsate with life. On the left is a cottage or mill; on the right, a sheepfold. The palm tree on the right adds an exotic element perhaps deriving from a print by Dürer or Schongauer; it has been suggested that it may be a symbol of the Christian’s victory over death (Lister, 1988, no. 73) or a punning reference on the artist’s name (White, 1977, p. 120).

A loan exhibition of English drawings and watercolours from the collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon of Upperville, Virginia, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, 1964, cat. no. 19, pl. IX, N5247.M385 L62 (YCBA)

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 295, no. 112, pl. 112, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Raymond Lister, A catalogue raisonne of the works of Samuel Palmer, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK; New York, NY, 1988, p. 59, no. 73, NJ18 P19 A12 L57 (YCBA)

Christiana Payne, ' A mild, a grateful, an unearthly lustre ', Samuel Palmer and the Moon , Burlington Magazine, vol. 154, no. 1310, May 2012, pp. 332, 333, fig. 30, N1 B87 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Christopher White, English landscape, 1630-1850, drawings, prints & books from the Paul Mellon Collection , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, p. 120, no. 216, pl. CLXXV, NC228 W45 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Yale University Art Gallery, English drawings and watercolors, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, April 15 - June 20, 1965 , New Haven, 1965, cat. no. 19, Pl. 9, NC228 Y34 (YCBA)

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