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Palmer's fellow Ancients Edward Calvert and George Richmond made a number of prints during the Shoreham period. But Palmer made only one, now very rare, wood-engraving at that time. In the 1850s, however, he took up etching, and produced a sequence of prints in which he recaptured some of the intensity of his visionary Shoreham years. Many of them are twilight or dawn scenes, combining memories of Shoreham with those of his later visit to Italy and his admiration for Claude. Palmer began this plate in May 1858, and etched it in six weeks, reworking it several times. Its alternative title, 'The Herdsman', may be more apt, since ploughing would not usually take place during the same month, May, that horse-chestnuts are in blossom.

August 2004