Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 275. Donnington, Berkshire.

Property of the late Mrs Hugh Linnell (1938-2023)

Samuel Palmer, R.W.S

Donnington, Berkshire

Lot Closed

July 4, 11:53 AM GMT


5,000 - 8,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property of the late Mrs Hugh Linnell (1938-2023)

Samuel Palmer, R.W.S.

Newington 1805 - 1881 Redhill

Donnington, West Berkshire

signed lower left: S. Palmer

watercolour over pencil, heightened with bodycolour and white chalk

296 by 528 mm

Given to the artist's father-in-law, John Linnell (1792-1882),

Thence by descent

Palmer painted this large-scale watercolour following a sketching tour of Berkshire that he carried out in the early autumn of 1843. His subject is the farm at Donnington, an ancient village in the west of that county with connections to Geoffrey Chaucer's family and later the Dukes of Suffolk.

By 1843, Palmer had mounting responsibilities. His marriage with Hannah, daughter of John Linnell, R.A, had already produced two children, Thomas More Palmer and Mary Elizabeth, and although he had recently been elected an Associate of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours, he had not yet achieved financial success or a steady stream of patronage. Now living in London, having moved from the rural idyll of Shoreham in Kent, he was under-pressure to find a style of painting that would appeal to contemporary tastes.

Despite this, the present watercolour, which Palmer gave to his father-in-law in return for a loan in early 1846, recalls many of the motifs that had preoccupied him during his fabled 'Shoreham period.'1 The beauty of rural life is his subject: a black dog walks at the heels of an elderly shepherd who carries a knapsack on a staff over his shoulder. Before them a small flock of sheep lead the way, already sensing they are close to home. The farm itself is nestled in mature woodland and a cherry tree, seen in the foreground to the left, is resplendent in full bloom. The dominance of russet and ochre pigments infuses the scene with a sense of the changing seasons, from the heat of summer to the cooler temperatures of autumn.

It has been suggested that the white chalk in the sky may have been added by John Linnell or another member of the family, at a later date.

Raymond Lister records a second watercolour by Palmer from 1843 entitled: At Donnington, Berkshire, the Birthplace of Chaucer in his catalogue raisonné of 1988. That drawing also belonged to John Linnell but was sold at auction in 1929.2 The present work has remained within the artist's family until today.

  1. See letters dated 18 October 1845 and 9 January 1846 in: R. Lister Ed., The Letters of Samuel Palmer, Oxford 1974, pp. 438-439
  2. See. R. Lister, Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of Samuel Palmer, Cambridge 1988, p. 141, no. 377