Samuel Palmer British

Not on view

Palmer’s poetic landscape invites us to contemplate evening quietude in the Welsh mountains. Painted to mark the artist’s election to full membership in London’s Society of Painters in Water-Colours, the work centers on a brilliant sinking sun that highlights Sabrina, a legendary nymph of the River Severn who oversees drinking cattle. Palmer took the subject from John Milton’s Comus, a drama set in the foothills of Mount Plynlimon in central Wales—a region the artist had toured and sketched. Replicating the dazzling effects of sunlight, the image moves from detailed hills in the center distance to more broadly rendered passages in the left and right foreground. Shell gold (pure metal mixed with gum) was applied to brighten leaves near the sun, while touches of body color (a matte, opaque form of watercolor), highlight nearer foliage.

Sabrina, Samuel Palmer (British, London 1805–1881 Redhill, Surrey), Watercolor and gouache (bodycolor) over graphite, with reductive techniques, shell gold and gum arabic

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