Sir Guyon with the Palmer Attending, Tempted by Phaedria to Land upon the Enchanted Islands

Object Details

Title:

Sir Guyon with the Palmer Attending, Tempted by Phaedria to Land upon the Enchanted Islands

Artist/Maker(s):

Samuel Palmer (English, 1805 - 1881)

Culture:

English

Date:

1849

Medium:

Watercolor and bodycolor, with some gum arabic, over black chalk underdrawing

Dimensions:

53.7 x 75.1 cm (21 1/8 x 29 9/16 in.)

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In the boat to the left stand Sir Guyon and the palmer, a pilgrim holding a palm branch who has returned from the Holy Land. Phaedria stands in the boat to the right, gesturing across the Idle Lake to the Enchanted Isle on the right, replete with dancing nymphs glittering in the evening sun. The subject is adapted from a passage in the Faerie Queene, a poem first published in 1590 by the English writer Edmund Spenser. In the poem, however, Phaedria refused, much against Sir Guyon's wishes, to take the palmer as well, and he was left behind on the bank. In Samuel Palmer's adaptation, the palmer is included, presumably intended as an autobiographical reference.

From the start, Samuel Palmer conceived this English Romantic narrative as a work of art in its own right. This visionary and idealized landscape is a highly finished and virtuoso display of his achievements with watercolor. From the dappled clouds to the melting sunlight that modulates all that it envelops, the range of technique is extraordinary. Much of the work was done with the point of the brush.

Provenance

Samuel Palmer, English, 1805 - 1881, by inheritance to Giles Pilcher

Giles Pilcher, died 1982, by inheritance to his wife, Mrs. O.M. Pilcher

1987

Mrs. O.M. Pilcher, died 1987, by bequest to one of her executors, 1987.

1990

Private Collection (Executor of Mrs. O.M. Pilcher), sold to Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd., 1990.

1994

Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (UK), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.

Exhibitions
Annual Exhibition (1849) (100)
  • Old Water Colour Society (London), 1849
Samuel Palmer, 1805-1881: An Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Etchings (October 21 to November 26, 1961) (63)
  • Graves Art Gallery, (Sheffield), October 21 to November 26, 1961
Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum (December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998) (63)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to February 22, 1998
To Create a Living Art: 19th Century Drawings (May 1 to July 15, 2001) (63)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 15, 2001
The Prismatic Palette: Four Centuries of Watercolors (October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005) (63)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 5, 2004 to January 2, 2005
Luminous Paper: British Watercolors and Drawings (July 19 to October 23, 2011) (63)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 19 to October 23, 2011
Bibliography