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A Hilly Scene

Samuel Palmer

A Hilly Scene

Samuel Palmer
  • Date: 1828
  • Style: Romanticism
  • Genre: landscape
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This is one of Palmer's finest works, painted shortly after he settled in Shoreham in Kent. The Darent valley appeared to Palmer a perfect, neo-Platonic world and he called it the 'Valley of Vision'. In this picture he creates an ideal image of pastoral contentment, unaffected by the outside world. The unseasonal combination of flowering horse-chestnut and huge ripe heads of wheat symbolise fertility and the richness of the soil, and Palmer may have been inspired by Edmund Spenser's lines from the Faërie Queene (1596), Book iii, Canto VI, beginning 'There is continuall spring, and harvest there'. The prominent church spire signifies a divine presence within the landscape. This is emphasised by the gothic arch created by the branches at the top of the composition, which relates closely to Coming from Evening Church (1830). In the background, the characteristic rounded hills of Shoreham and the crescent moon, here shown on its back, were later adopted as motifs by artists of the mid-twentieth century. Inspired by John Milton's poetic evocations, the moon in its various phases became a recurring feature in Palmer's work.

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