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Samuel Palmer. 1805-1881.

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The Herdsman's Cottage, or, Sunset. 1888. Etching. Lister 3.ii. Image 3 7/8 x 3; plate 4 7/8 x 4; sheet 9 x 6 3/4). As published in, The Portfolio, 1872. Illustrated: Print Collector's Quarterly 3 (1913): 213. A fine impression printed on cream laid paper, with the etched initials in the lower margin. $975.

The plate was not published until 1872, when Philip Gilbert Hamerton included it in The Portfolio. In 1875,Hamerton published it in his book, Examples of Modern Etching. In 1880, he published it for a third time in his seminal book, Etching and Etchers. The later impressions are of lesser quality than this first published issue.

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The son of a bookseller, Samuel Palmer began painting at the age of thirteen. One year later he exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1826 he moved to the remote village of Shoreham in Kent where he and such fellow artists as George Richmond and Edward Calvert formed the group now known as 'The Ancients'. Inspired by the poetry of Virgil and Milton and, most particularly by the writings and art of William Blake (whom Samuel Palmer first met in 1824), these artists produced some of the greatest pastoral imagery in the history of British art. Partly because he lived in somewhat isolated conditions and partly because his work was anything but 'Victorian' in both style and temperament, the art of Samuel Palmer was not fully appreciated during his life. In the early twentieth century, however, Samuel Palmer's watercolours and most specifically his etchings came to the forefront. Championed by such scholars and artists as Martin Hardie, Lawrence Binyon, Sir Frank Short, F. L. Griggs, William Larkins, Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland, Palmer has now taken his place as a most important figure in English nineteenth century art.

Samuel Palmer began his first etching in 1850. The same year he was elected to the Etching Club. He completed only seventeen works of art in this medium for which now he is most famous. Of etching Palmer wrote, "It is my misfortune to work slowly, not from any wish to niggle, but because I cannot otherwise get certain shimmerings of light, and mysteries of shadow; so that only a pretty good price would yield a journeyman's wages." * Thus financial necessity drove Samuel Palmer to dedicate more time to watercolours than to etching.

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