British, 1903–1992


John Piper attended Richmond School of Art, the Royal College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1925 to 1930. On a visit to Paris in 1933, where he became more absorbed in the abstract movement led by artists such as Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, he met Hélion, Braque, Léger, Arp and Brancusi. He became a member of the London Group, and also of the 7 & 5 Society, the members of which included Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Ivon Hitchens, Frances Hodgkins, Barbara Hepworth and Winifred Nicholson, and exhibited with them. Beginning in 1938, he illustrated several guide books to Britain. He contributed to various journals including the Architectural Review and also published books, notably a collection of poems and an essay on painting, The Painter's Object.

In 1937, he stopped experimenting with Cubism and Abstraction and returned to representational art, especially landscapes and architectural subjects producing dramatic or picturesque work in the style of the 19th-century English Romantics, whilst maintaining a rigorous sense of composition.

During World War II, as an official war artist, he painted series of street scenes, houses, and buildings ravaged by German bombings, the most famous of which are House of Commons; Council Chamber, House of Commons; Views of Bath and Views of Coventry. In addition, in 1941, Kenneth Clark, the Surveyor of the King's pictures, secured a commission for Piper from the Queen (the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother) to paint 12 views of Windsor Castle. The paintings are a successful synthesis of the topographical view and the romantic setting.

After the war, in landscapes and coastal scenes, the effects he obtained from the patinated façades of former buildings or typical Welsh landscapes are delightful. In theatre design, he played a particularly important role, producing the sets for several operas by Benjamin Britten, including The Rape of Lucretia in 1946 and The Turn of the Screw in 1954; he also designed the sets for the Ninette de Valois' ballet Job in 1948 and John Cranko's ballet Harlequin in April in 1951. Later in his career, Piper produced mosaics and tapestries for Chichester cathedral, the University of Sussex and the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford; his stained glass window designs include: Eton College Chapel; Coventry cathedral baptistery, in collaboration with Patrick Reyntiens, and Aldeburgh church. He also produced fabric designs (Benezit, Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006).

Museum Collections:
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA
Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield
Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton
Tate Gallery, London
The Royal Collection, London
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

Mark Murray Fine Paintings is a New York gallery specializing in buying and selling 19th century and early 20th century artwork. 

Please contact us if you are interested in selling your John Piper paintings or other artwork from the 19th century and early 20th century.