Samuel Palmer

The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine from the Palatine, Rome


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Samuel Palmer 1805–1881
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 137 × 279 mm
Presented by the Art Fund (Herbert Powell Bequest) 1967

Display caption

Samuel Palmer spent an extended honeymoon in Italy in 1837–9. This was a turning point in his career: having specialised in visionary English scenery, Palmer now turned to the Italian landscape for subject matter.

Rome had been a favourite destination for English travellers since the seventeenth century. Its famous monuments and ruins were seen as the ultimate source of classical values. The spontaneous feeling of this sketch, and its long, almost panoramic format, deviate from the carefully balanced compositional formats that had dominated traditional views of the city.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Samuel Palmer 1805–1881

T01008 The Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine from the Palatine, Rome 1837–9

Inscribed ‘32’ t. r.
Watercolour over pencil, 5¿ x 11 (13.5 x 27.75).
Presented by the National Art-Collections Fund from the Herbert Powell Bequest 1967.
Coll:...; Bryan Hook; Cotswold Gallery by 1927; Herbert Powell, entrusted to the N.A.C.F. 1929.
Exh: Cotswold Gallery, March-April 1927 (1); Sheffield 1961 (42, as of 1838); see also under Atkins T00964.

Presumably executed in Rome, where Palmer arrived at the beginning of November 1837, remaining, apart from a visit to Naples, until August 1839. The 1927 Cotswold Gallery catalogue gave, without evidence, the more precise date 1839.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1967–1968, London 1968.

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