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Samuel Palmer: from long-haired mystic to High Church Tory

William Vaughan’s biography shows how the idealistic painter of Arcadia became an established artist with a strong commercial sense

21 November 2015

9:00 AM

21 November 2015

9:00 AM

Samuel Palmer: Shadows on the Wall William Vaughan

Yale, pp.412, £50, ISBN: 9780300209853

In his youth, Samuel Palmer (1805–1881) painted like a Romantic poet. The moonlit field of ‘The Harvest Moon’ (1831–32) glows with uncanny significance; for Palmer, as for Tolstoy’s Lieven, the bowed forms of the peasants at the harvest are shadows of divinity. Palmer aged like a Romantic poet too. The long-haired mystic became a High Church Tory: like Coleridge, but without the drinking.

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