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British landscape painter, etcher and printmaker. He was also a prolific writer. Palmer was a key figure in Romanticism in Britain and produced visionary pastoral paintings.
English painter and etcher of visionary landscapes who was a disciple of William Blake.
Palmer’s father, a bookseller, encouraged him to become a painter. By 1819 he had already exhibited small landscape studies at the Royal Academy. The works that survive from 1819 to 1821 are able but conventional. In the following years, however, there are signs of a profound change in his thinking, perhaps connected with his conversion from the Baptist faith to a personal form of High Anglicanism and with his discovery of medieval art.
A sketchbook of 1824 (British Museum), rediscovered in 1956, already shows all the elements of his visionary style: a mystical but precise depiction of nature and an overflowing religious intensity, united by a vivid re-creation of the pastoral conventions. In October 1824 the painter John Linnell took him to see William Blake, who encouraged Palmer in the mystical direction he was taking and provided examples of his own work for Palmer to follow. Blake’s influence can be seen clearly in the “Repose of the Holy Family” (1824–25) and the series of sepia drawings of 1825.