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Samuel Palmer’s vision of the landscape was shaped by his friendship with the older poet and artist William Blake (1757–1827). Blake’s words in Milton are those of a prophet waiting for liberty and peace to reign: ‘I will not cease from Mental Fight, Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand: Till we have built Jerusalem, In England’s green & pleasant Land.’ This picture shows a scene after harvesting has finished. Palmer, a devout Christian, created images of ‘England’s green & pleasant Land’ that contrasted with the harsher contemporary reality of change and social unrest in the countryside.

February 2016