Mysterious Wisdom by Rachel Campbell-Johnston
The Life and Work of Samuel Palmer

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A devotee of the great visionary William Blake, Samuel Palmer became the lynchpin of the first British art movement. Leading a band of fellow artists - the brotherhood of Ancients - out of London to the village of Shoreham in Kent, he set out to create a new rural ideal. His paintings of slumbering shepherds and tumbling blossoms, of mystical cornfields and bright sickle moons, capture a world in which landscape and politics, religion and culture all meet. They reflect the concerns of the nineteenth century which his life spanned. In his day, like his mentor Blake, Samuel Palmer was much neglected. He did not attempt the grand dramas of J.M.W. Turner or follow John Constable's profoundly naturalistic path. But he belongs in their pantheon of great British Romantics as much for the numinous visions that are embodied in his loveliest paintings as for the vagaries of a life story in which he so often failed. If English tradition had ever encompassed the making of icons they would not have been so different from Palmer's enchanted landscapes. Mysterious Wisdom offers for the first time in more than thirty-five years a vivid and intimate portrait of Palmer who, over the course of the past century, has become increasingly treasured as one of the most extraordinarily talented and quirkily eccentric figures of the British art world, or - as the art historian Kenneth Clark believed - an English Van Gogh.

About Rachel Campbell-Johnston

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Rachel Campbell Johnston is the art critic and the poetry critic for The Times. She has a PhD in English Literature. Rachel Campbell Johnston lives in London and in Norfolk with her family and her flock of sheep.
Published July 1, 2011 by Bloomsbury UK. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography.

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When the artist Samuel Palmer died at the age of 76 in 1881 he was just beginning to rally from decades in the doldrums.

Jul 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Mysterious Wisdom: The Life a...

The Telegraph

Since the last Potter came out she has kept herself busy - and confounded .

Jun 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Mysterious Wisdom: The Life a...

Campbell-Johnston fastidiously recounts the shallow life trajectory that took Palmer from a middle-class London boyhood to forming the Ancients - a band of fellow pastoralists with medieval inclinations - to the meeting with William Blake that inspired him to look at nature with an inner eye and ...

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Mysterious Wisdom: The Life a...


This latest exhibition from the duo examines...

Feb 03 2015 | Read Full Review of Mysterious Wisdom: The Life a...

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