PALMER, SAMUEL (1805-1881) and GEORGE RICHMOND (1809-1896)
UNPUBLISHED LETTERS CONCERNING FAILED NEGOTIATIONS FOR A SALE OF WILLIAM BLAKE'S PICTURE THE SPIRITUAL FORM OF PITT GUIDING BEHEMOTH TO THE NATIONAL GALLERY. Both Palmer and Richmond were friends of Blake.
SAMUEL PALMER: '...So far as a landscape painter can judge, I think it one of his very finest works...' Palmer also quotes Blake's own note about the picture in his exhibition catalogue of 1809, no. 2.
GEORGE RICHMOND: '...As I knew Blake and saw his works at his own house, this of Pitt among the number, I venture to say that there is hardly to be found now another picture in such good preservation as this one, and certainly no more characteristic one of his wayward, and wild, but true genius...I have done my best both towards the National Collection and to the holder (as I conceive) of a precious, and perhaps unique work and my best efforts for both have failed...I shall do no more, and try to think no more about it, although of course it has distressed me a good deal...'
Palmer's letters are not published in The Letters of Samuel Palmer, edited by Raymond Lister, 2 volumes, 1974, nor is there any reference to these failed negotiations for the sale of Blake's tempera picture, The Spiritual Form of Pitt guiding Behemoth, but in a footnote on page 896 Lister states that the picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition, Old Masters, in 1871 (no. 285) and that it remained in Palmer's possession until his death. In 1882 it was unsold at Christie's and was later bought by the National Gallery. It was also exhibited in the only and unsuccessful exhibition that Blake organised in his lifetime.