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John Piper (1903-1992)

Biography of John Piper (1903-1992)

John Piper (1903-1992) was a painter, notably of architecture and landscape, a designer of stained glass, a theatre designer, an author and writer. Piper was born in Epsom in 1903 and in his early years studied law (1921-1926) working in his father's law firm.

From 1926, Piper went on to study Art at Richmond and Kingston, latterly at the Royal College, and it was here that he met and married his first wife Eileen Holding.

Piper visited Paris and was absorbed by the abstract painters he met there, influencing his style from the early 1930s. However, by the late 1930s he had reverted to representational work.

In 1937, Piper worked, along with John Betjamin on the famous Shell series of guide books.

His first solo show, of collages and drawings, was at the London Gallery in 1938. At this time he was also a prolific writer, working for the New Statesman and the Athenaeum.

John Piper went on to exhibit with the Leicester Galleries from 1940-1960.

In 1942, Piper published the best-selling monograph English Romantic Artists.

Piper's ballet designs included The Quest in 1943 and commissions for Benjamin Britten.

Piper was an official War Artist from 1939-1945. In 1940, Piper persuaded the War Artists Commission that he should be painting the sights of bombed churches. As a recent convert to the Anglican Church and with the subject of ruined buildings being close to his heart, this agreed commission produced a number of his finest mixed media drawings. His stained glass window designs include Coventry Cathedral and Christchurch College Chapel, Oxford.

Piper also created tapestries for Chichester Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral and Llandaff Cathedral.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Piper spent time painting extensively in Pembrokeshire. Retrospectives were held at The Museum of Modern Art in Oxford in 1979 and The Tate Gallery in 1983.

Centenary shows were at Pallant House and Goldmark Gallery.

John Piper lived in a derelict farmhouse at Fawley Bottom in Oxfordshire with his second wife Myfanwy Evans. In later life, he suffered from dementia and died at his home in 1992.

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Lot FS30/280

Lot FS30/280: John Piper [1903-1992] - Menerbes

John Piper [1903-1992] - Menerbes - signed bottom left, inscribed with title bottom right pen, ink and watercolour heightened with bodycolour 36 x 53cm.

Estimate: £5,000 - £7,000
Realised: £10,000