Art and design

6th January 2006 at 00:00
KS 12

Discuss the mystery of the journeying man: where might he have come from? Where might he be going? Who is he? Why is he walking at night? Who might he meet on his journey? Episodes in the story could be illustrated using Palmer's technique of watercolour wash, with the detail in pen and ink.

Palmer often used monochrome colours, black, sepia and white, often mixing the inks with gum arabic to create a shiny, textural line. Use "Cornfield by Moonlight" to inspire work on light and shade within moonlit scenes, using a monochrome palette, creating all the effects of tone and atmosphere using light and shade rather than colour.


This painting was completed just before the Great Reform Act of 1832.

KS 4

Palmer opposed reform since he believed the proposed changes would increase, rather than alleviate, poverty for rural people. There were riots over reform in Shoreham, Palmer's home in rural Kent in 1830. Discuss how this painting can be viewed as a metaphor for Palmer's pessimism over the plight of the countryside. Palmer himself wrote a pamphlet in 1832 "to the electors of West Kent" attacking the Great Reform Act. Ask your class to write their own pamphlets, trying to persuade or dissuade the electors foragainst the changes proposed in the Act.



Compare the Palmer painting with some poems by William Blake (eg "Songs of Innocence: Night", especially first verse). Consider the images, tone and attention to details of nature in both, and the spiritual value of these details.

The sun descending in the west, The evening star does shine; The birds are silent in their nest, And I must seek for mine.

The moon like a flower, In heaven's high bower, With silent delight Sits and smiles on the night.

Richard Woff and Sarah Longair, British Museum education department

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today