John Egerton Christmas Piper CH (13 December 1903 – 28 June 1992) was an English painter, printmaker and designer of stained-glass windows and theatre sets. His work often focused on the British landscape, especially churches and monuments, and included tapestry designs, book jackets, screen prints, photography, fabrics and ceramics.
Famous for his romantic landscapes, views of ruined churches, stately homes and castles, John Piper (1903 – 1992) is considered to be one of the most significant British artists of the 20th Century.
Piper’s work of this period reflected the trend for abstraction but by the late 1930’s he had returned to a more naturalistic style.
Piper worked on stage designs and costumes for theatre and ballet as well as the designs for six operas by Benjamin Britten. A versatile artist, Piper also wrote articles on art and architecture and designed stained glass windows for a number of buildings including the new Coventry Cathedral.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Piper was commissioned by the ‘war artists’ scheme’ to capture the effects of the war on the British landscape. The devastation of the Blitz was easily assimilated to Piper’s personal interest in old ruined buildings. These scenes do not always directly relate to bomb-damage but reflect, in Piper’s unique way, a sense of loss and nostalgia. In 1944 he was appointed Official War Artist.
Beach with Starfish ink, 1933-34
Gouache, printed paper and ink on paper 380 x 485 mm © Tate
1939-40 Ruined Cottage, Llanthony, Wales
oil on canvas 39.4 x 49.7 cm © Mrs Clarissa Lewis
1961 Coast of Brittany II
gouache & collage on paper 57.1 78.1 cm © The Piper Estate