Harold Sutton Palmer, more commonly known as Harry, was born in Plymouth in 1853. He was a notable and extremely popular artist of landscapes in watercolours.
He was the second of three children born to John and Susan Sutton Palmer. His father, John, was a Picture Dealer and his brother, also John, was a China Merchant. By the age of 18, Harry Sutton Palmer’s occupation was noted in the 1871 census as ‘Painter in Watercolours’. He is most well-known for his architectural and natural landscapes of Great Britain, Europe and America.
In 1871 the Sutton Palmer family were living in St Pancras, London.
It is during the 1870’s and the subsequent decades that Harry Sutton Palmer firmly established as a commercial artist of note.
Harry Sutton Palmer exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts at their annual exhibition from 1877-1925. He predominantly showed rural landscapes and iconic architectural scenes of Great Britain, with occasional more exotic landscapes such his 1877 entry ‘A Village Scene, Near Cairo’. He was an exhibiting member of the Royal Society of British Artists, joining in 1892, and the Royal Painters in Water colours, joining in 1920.
He exhibited prolifically across commercial galleries in England and America. In London he exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, Walker Gallery, Agnew & Sons, Brook Street Art Gallery, Connell & Sons, Dudely Gallery, and most notably he exhibited 382 paintings at the Dowdeswell Galleries during his artistic career. He also exhibited at Manchester City of Art Gallery, Leicester Gallery and Walker Art Gallery Liverpool.
It is evident that Harry Sutton Palmer had been exploring landscapes much further afield than his native England early on in his artistic career. In 1889 Harry Sutton Palmer married Maud Moore, a descendant of an American military revolutionary family, in Santa Clara, California. They went on to have one daughter, Camille.
In March 1897 the New York Art Dealers, M. Knoedler & Co, held a one man show of Harry Sutton Palmer’s work, entitled ‘In many lands: Depicting some charming and interesting scenes in Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Egypt and California’. He would exhibit with M. Knoedler & Co twice.
The Californian scenes painted by Sutton Palmer most notably appear as reproductions in the form of 32 colour plates in Mary Austin’s highly esteemed book California: The Land of the Sun. Published in the Autumn of 1914 after the onset of WW1, by British publishers Adam & Charles Black, it is a detailed description of the dramatic and rugged natural landscapes in Southwestern North America that Austin came to call home and love.
Harry Sutton Palmer frequently travelled with his Californian wife and duel nationality daughter from England to America, and was able to capture the visual language and essence of those landscapes in his paintings which sit harmoniously alongside Mary Austin’s highly descriptive text.
In the latter half of Harry Sutton Palmer’s career, he illustrated 18 publications for the British Publishers Adam & Charles Black, many of which had several editions that continued to be printed after his death. Each of the books were leather bound with gilt embossing and contained colour plate illustrations. The subject of a majority of the publications were regions and counties of Great Britain. The exceptions being California: The Land of the Sun and The Lady of the Lake by Walter Scott, with accompanying topographical illustrations by Harry Sutton Palmer.
Harry Sutton Palmer died after a brief illness at his home in Chiswick, London, in 1933 at the age of 80. His obituary in The Times had described his work as being distinguished by romantic feeling and vigour of style.