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You are hereHarvey-LeeHomeHarvey-LeeWeb ExhibitionsHarvey-LeeSamuel Palmer Intro Harvey-LeeChristmas

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

Christmas or Folding the Last Sheep

Christmas or Folding the Last Sheep | Samuel Palmer | Etching | Elizabeth Harvey-Lee


or Folding the Last Sheep
Alexander 4 iv/v, Lister 4 iv/v
124 x 103 mm (bevelled plate); 100 x 80 mm (image); 290 x 214 mm (sheet)

Etching, 1850. The plate signed. First published state, 1882, lettered with Palmer’s name and the title “Christmas” From Bampfylde’s Sonnet, and issued by A H Palmer in Samuel Palmer. A Memoir. (It would be re-issued in 1926 in the Trio printing*, edition of 75.)
On laid paper, the extreme sheet edge red on three sides.

* See paragraph five in the The Goldsmiths’ School Etchers in the Palmer’s Legacy exhibition.


or Folding the Last Sheep
124 x 103 mm (bevelled plate); 100 x 80 mm (image); 215 x 181 mm (sheet)

Another impression, in the same state (not illustrated), on different paper with smaller margins. Printed with slightly more retroussage at the bottom right.


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Additional Information about the Print

The theme is from a sonnet by John Codrington Bampfield (1754-96)

…Old Christmas comes to close the wanèd year,
 And aye the shepherd’s heart to make right glad;
Who, when his teeming flocks are homeward had,
To blazing hearth repairs, and nut brown beer;
And views, well-pleas’d the ruddy prattlers dear
Hug the grey mongrel; …

The Etching Club had already proposed the illustration of twenty miscellaneous ‘Sonnets’ in 1849 as the next project for publication. The Minutes for 13 July 1850 record that the etchings for the ‘Sonnets’ are produced, two being by Palmer.

By 27 Dec 1850 they had balloted on the plates for ‘Sonnets’. Four by Palmer are listed as accepted –

  • Bampfield
  • The Lark
  • Shepherd
  • and Evening

However, discussions with the Art Union for London were drawn out and ‘Sonnets’ as such was never published but developed into the “Etchings for the Art Union of London…”, published in 1857, in which only Palmer’s ‘Skylark’ of his four 1850 etchings was included, together with the later etchings ‘The Sleeping Shepherd’ and ‘The Rising Moon’.

Already in the previous meeting on 6 Dec 1850 the Club had resolved on a second Part of “Songs of Shakespeare” (see the following item) and this took priority.

(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.