Palmer, Samuel (1805-1881), 'The Early Ploughman', Etching, Begun 1860-61

'The Early Ploughman', Etching, Begun 1860-61

A beautiful proof impression.

Signed by the artist in pencil 'S. Palmer'.

Bearing the A.H Palmer Private Press blind stamp.

Even though several impressions of the sixth state are inscribed ‘finished state’ this is mis-leading as Samuel Palmer created a seventh state through the addition of new work. Having personally done all the stopping out he entrusted his son, A.H. Palmer, to re-bite the plate, ‘very carefully’, in order to facilitate the printing of the desired tone and effect without having to resort, as in the previous state, to the use of special inks and artificial printing. The most obvious difference between the sixth and seventh state is the treatment of the sky which, again without the horizontal streak of cloud behind the crag, now depicts a sunrise ‘more from a radiating centre rather than than from lighted clouds.’

Another obvious difference, recorded neither by Alexander nor Lister, is the number of birds, now four instead of five, above the ridge, far left.
 The result, reached after almost fifteen years of development, is worthy of the effort. A.H. Palmer, who did not welcome the new additions to the plate, printed this superb impression at his private press and doubtless fulfilled his father’s vision . F.L. Griggs, who made the final edition in 1926, greatly approved of the changes and asserted that ….’the growth in beauty of this most beautiful of plate was mainly due to Samuel Palmer’s decision to re-bite and re-work it. Other opinion also seems to be that the later states are the most desirable. The technical skill in the transformation is wonderful.’

The claim that the choicest proofs are to be found in the sixth state is contradicted by the quality of impression of this which is in the seventh completed state. 

Images Size 13.3 x 19.9 cm&
Plate Size 18 x 25.4 cm&
Paper Size 34.2 x 55 cm
Reference Alexander 9, vii/viii

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