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.
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