Gouache by John Piper Expand Icon

John Piper (1903–1992)


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Unframed: 37x47cm; Framed size: 54.4 x 64.8cm
Gouache on paper

John Egerton Christmas Piper was a well-known 20th century English painter and printmaker who lived for many years at Fawley Bottom near Henley-on-Thames. Born in Epsom, Surrey, Piper studied law before attending Richmond College of Art and the Royal College of Art. He held his first one-person exhibition in London in 1938.

His work focused mainly on the British landscape, especially churches, and he spent much of his life studying the buildings he depicted. He designed the stained glass windows for the new Coventry Cathedral as well as many smaller churches and created tapestries for the Chichester Cathedral. He was also a set designer for the theatre, including the Kenton Theatre, his local theatre in Henley, and for the Royal Opera House production of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. He also wrote extensively on modern art both as in books and articles and co-founded (with his wife Myfanwy) the contemporary art journal, Axis.

182 of his works are in the Tate collection. These range in style from etchings to some abstract works. Major retrospective exhibitions have been held at Tate Britain, the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Imperial War Museum.

He largely withdrew from abstraction early in his career and concentrated on a more naturalistic but very distinctive approach. In his later years he produced many limited edition prints. He has had major exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in 19831984 and more recently (and posthumously), the Dulwich Picture Gallery (covering the 1930s), the Imperial War Museum (covering the 1940s) and, closer to his place of residence, the River and Rowing Museum and the Museum of Reading.

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