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You are hereHarvey-LeeHomeHarvey-LeeWeb ExhibitionsHarvey-LeeSamuel Palmer Intro Harvey-LeeThe Willow

Samuel Palmer  
(Newington, south London 1805 – 1881 Redhill, near Reigate, Surrey)

The Willow

The Willow | Samuel Palmer | Etching | Elizabeth Harvey-Lee

The Willow
Alexander 1 ii/iii, Lister 1 ii/iii
117 x 80 mm (bevelled plate mark); 90 x 67 mm (etched image); 225 x 151 mm (sheet)

Etching, 1850. Finished state, with the additional line in the sky. The plate signed and dated (the 5 being in reverse). First published state, in The Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer by A H Palmer, 1892. On wove paper, a pale stain in the right margin, just affecting the blank plate border.


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Additional Information about the Print

Palmer’s first etching, his probationary plate for membership of the Etching Club, was based on a watercolour study (twice the size of the etching) of a willow tree he had painted shortly before  - now in Manchester City Art Gallery.

Palmer made closely observed tree studies throughout his career. The etching reverses the tree and Palmer further elaborated the scene into a finished landscape composition, adding a swan, watering cattle and a distant landscape with a tower. It is his only etched landscape without a direct human presence, though the cattle and the distant tower are suggestive. The treatment of the willow itself recalls his admiration for Claude Lorrain’s trees. Some of the lines in the sky are ruled, a common practice in 19th century reproductive engraving, but the advice of Thomas Creswick at the Etching Club deterred him from its use again.

On the submission of The Willow to the Etching Club on 19 February 1850 Palmer was unanimously elected a fellow member.

The Willow was not included in any Etching Club publication and remained unpublished in Palmer’s lifetime. His son A H Palmer issued it a decade later, 1892, in his fuller memoir of his father The Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer.

(It would also be one of the five plates printed by ‘The Trio’ - Short, Hardie & Griggs*  in 1926, and issued in an edition of 75 impressions by the Cotswold Gallery, after which the plate was cancelled, the image being scored through with a vertical line.)

* See Palmer's Legacy, introduction to the Goldsmiths' School Etchers.