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The Magic Apple Tree


Palmer, Samuel; draughtsman; British artist, 1805-1881






see 'notes'






Indian ink; medium
watercolour; medium
gum arabic; medium; ?
paper; support


pen and Indian ink, and watercolour, which in some areas has been mixed with a gum-like medium on paper


height, 349, mm
width, 273, mm


given; 1928-09; Anderson, A.E.


Samuel Palmer; A.H. Palmer; by whom sold at Christie's, 20 February 1928, lot 38 ; A.E. Anderson


Samuel Palmer moved to Shoreham 1826-7 and lived there permanently until he bought a house in London in 1832. "Forced into the country by illness, I lived afterwards for about seven years at Shoreham, in Kent, with my father, who was inseparable from his books, unless when still better engaged in works of kindness. There, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes visited by friends of congenial taste, literature, and art and ancient music wiled away the hours, and a small independance made me heedless, for the time, of further gain; the beautiful was loved for itself ..." (1). The Magic Apple Tree, so-called by Palmer's son, (2), can be firmly placed in the Shoreham period and is dated 1830, by Geoffrey Grigson (3). At this Palmer's mystical view of nature was being modified by the influence of Linnell, who urged him to work from the landscape. "Mr Linnell tells me that by making studies of the Shoreham scenery I could get a thousand a year directly. Tho' I am making studies for Mr Linnell, I will, God help me, never be a naturalist by profession" (4). The results were, as the quotation implies, never as prosaic as Linnell might have hoped, and, in the more finished works, like the Magic Apple Tree, he invests nature with a visionary significance instead of attempting to represent landscape as such. It is the less finished sketches which show the effect of Linnell's advice, for example 'An Ancient Barn' (c. 1829, Grigson No. 76 and plate 32), and a drawing of apples on the bough, with notes in Palmer's hand, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum (No.1491), which may be a preliminary study for the Magic Apple Tree. In fact Grigson has suggested that two of the extant Palmer sketches were preparatory for the Magic Apple Tree. "One is the sepia of 'A Country road leading towards a church', (No. 91 plate 44) ... which gives, roughly, the framework of the Apple Tree - the spire cut across by the fruit branches, the yew tree across the church, the arching trees, the lane leading downward between high banks and the sheep. The other is the 'Study of a bough loaded with Apples' ... (5). For this see the note to No. 1491. Notes and Lit.: (1) Samuel Palmer, from the autobiographical letter in 'The Portfolio', quoted by G. Grigson, 'Samuel Palmer, the Visionary Years', London 1947, p. 49. (2) A.H. Palmer, 'The Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer', London 1892 p. 48. (3) Grigson (loc. cit.) p. 178 (no. 92). (4) Samuel Palmer, from a letter to Richmond written in September 1828, quoted by Grigson (loc.cit.) p. 74. (5) (loc. cit.) p. 95. For additional refs., see Victoria & Albert Museum, 'Palmer Catalogue', 1926, pp. 35-36; Arts Council, 'Catalogue', p. 18.

Acquisition Credit:

given in memory of his brother, Frank


; frame, verso; label; From the Cotswald Gallery. Original Engravings by Old and Modern Masters, Watercolours, Drawings, Bronzes. 59 Frith Street, Soho Square, London, W.1.


Samuel Palmer: Vision and landscape. 2005-10-25 - 2006-05-28
Organiser: British Museum, London, England
Venue: British Museum, London
Notes: Touring exhibition. On display at the British Museum until 22/01, then at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 07/03


Woudhuysen, P.. 1982. Treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): Pevensey Pressp. 95

Related Object:

1491; Study of a bough laden with apples


Object Number: 1490
(Paintings, Drawings and Prints)
(record id: 12193; input: 2000-09-12; modified: 2017-05-02)


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