The Sleeping Shepherd by Samuel Palmer

This work depicts a shepherd reclining in the moonlight, his sheep standing in the foreground.

Details

Medium:
Pen & sepia wash
Dimensions:
15.7 x 18.8 cm
Art Fund grant:
£155 ( Total: £310)
Acquired in:
1954
Vendor:
Sotheby's

Though sleeping shepherds appear earlier in his art, they were employed merely as staffage. This drawing is the first occasion that Palmer treats this motif as the central theme of the composition. A deeply religious man, Palmer employs the motif in a dual way; the shepherd bears specific Christian connotations but also represents a symbol of the pastoral and rural life as described in Virgil's books. Fascinated by the Miltonian belief that the natural world might be a reflection of the divine, Palmer here gives it visual expression with the lace-like fronds of the trees encircling the heavenly moon. This painting is a product of the artist's so called visionary years (1825-1832) and has been described as 'among Palmer's most poetic works'.

Provenance

Richard Redgrave; Sotheby's 1932; Henry Reitlinger; Sotheby's 1954.

Venue details

The Whitworth The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester Greater Manchester M15 6ER 0161 275 7450 www.manchester.ac.uk/whitworth

Entry details

Free to all

Daily, 10am - 5pm (Thu until 9pm)

Closed 24, 25, 26 Dec and 1 Jan

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