Lot 5
  • 5


15,000 - 20,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Samuel Palmer
  • Shoreham
  • brown washes over pencil
  • 8.5 by 11.5 cm., 3¼ by 4½in.


James Clarke Hook, a painter and friend of the artist
by descent to his daughter-in-law, Mrs Brian Hook
by descent to her daughter, Miss Una Hook, 1979
sale, Messenger & May, Godalming, 8 October 1980, lot 401
with Leger Galleries Ltd., London
from where acquired on 20 November 1987


G. Grigson, Samuel Palmer - The Visionary Years, London, 1947, p. 195, no. 166;
R. Lister, Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of Samuel Palmer, Cambridge, 1988, no. 158 

Catalogue Note

The present watercolour dates to 1832-3 and was executed during Palmer’s fabled ‘visionary years’ at Shoreham. He had first discovered the quiet village of Shoreham, which lies some thirty miles to the south-east of London, in 1824 and over the next decade this rural part of Kent would utterly seduce him. When looking back on his life, Palmer always considered these years to be amongst his happiest and it was undoubtedly at Shoreham that he created his boldest and most influential pictures. During the latter part of the 1820s and early 1830s Palmer was the leading figure in an artistic brotherhood that referred to themselves as the ‘Ancients.’ The group included fellow artists Frederick Tatham, Edward Calvert, George Richmond (see lot 645), Henry Walter, Welby Sherman and Francis Oliver Finch, as well as Palmer’s cousin, the stock-broker, John Giles. These friends were united by their interest in medieval art, the assertion that ancient man was superior to modern and their idolisation of the great visionary painter and poet William Blake.

They regularly descended on Shoreham, firstly staying with Palmer at his dilapidated cottage – which was fondly known as ‘Rat Abbey’ – and then, after 1828, at The Water House, a large home that Palmer’s father had leased near to the River Darent. There, the ‘Ancients’ deliberately turned their backs on a world rapidly becoming more modern and immersed themselves in the landscape, exploring it by day and often by night.

The present work was drawn on the spot in the open air and depicts the distinctive gabled cottages and parish church of Shoreham. According to the eminent Palmer scholar, Raymond Lister, it once formed part of a sketchbook that was given by the artist to his friend the painter James Clarke Hooke (1819-1907) and handed down by descent until sold by Messenger & May in 1980.

It is very rare that drawings from Palmer’s 'Shoreham' period appear on the market as most are already in national collections. The last example was: A Church with a Boat and Sheep (183 by 137 mm.) which achieved a world record price for the artist of $2,415,000, when sold at Sotheby’s, New York in January 2018.