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Samuel Palmer

1805 – 1881

Opening the Fold – Early Morning by Samuel Palmer

Opening the Fold – Early Morning   1880

  Original etching.
Signed in the plate.
Ref: Lister E13 viii/x
S 217 x 314 mm; P 152 x 214 mm; I 118 x 177 mm
Excellent impression with bright contrast and good tonal range, as issued for An English Version of the Eclogues of Virgil in 1883.

Samuel Palmer’s last completed etching. Samuel Palmer had planned a series of ten etched illustrations to accompany the publication of his translation of the Eclogues of Virgil as his last major project. However, by the time of his death in 1881, only this etching had been completed. He left four other etched plates unfinished – the final details of these four other etched works were completed by A.H. Palmer according to his father’s instructions.

This etching was designed to accompany Samuel Palmer’s translation of Virgil’s verse:
Scarce with her rosy fingers had the dawn
From glimmering heaven the veil of night withdrawn,
Or folded flocks were loose to browse anew
O’er mountain thyme or trefoil wet with dew,
When leaning sad an olive stem beside,
These, his last numbers, hapless Damon plied.

It seems fitting that Samuel Palmer’s last completed etching should have been so perfect a vision of pastoral beauty. This work represents the culmination of a lifetime’s experience in etching and the truly remarkable interplay of light across every aspect of this design is testament to the genius which Samuel Palmer had developed over the years. The extraordinary variety of effect throughout the sky makes dramatic comparison with Samuel Palmer’s first etched work The Willow; whilst every aspect of the artist’s handling, from the illuminated coats of the foreground sheep, to the smoke drifting from the cottage chimney beyond, display the touch of a consummate master of his art.

On cream laid paper with wide margins and deckle edge. Very good original condition. Image surface excellent.