John Piper (1903 - 1992)
John Egerton Christmas Piper was born in Epsom, Surrey, on December 13th 1903. The youngest of three sons, Piper showed a keenness for art at an early age & a particular interest in landscape & architecture. On leaving school his desire to be a painter was hampered by an obligation to work as a clerk at his father's firm of solicitors. Following his father's death in 1926 he was free to follow his vocation. He entered the Richmond School of Art & a year later the Royal College of Art. In 1929 he left to marry fellow student, Eileen Holding. The early 30's saw him forming friendships with such artists as Henry Moore, Ivon Hitchens, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth & Paul Nash. He exhibited regularly with the London Group & the 7 & 5 Society & was also writing articles for various periodicals & magazines. In the summer of 1934 after meeting the art writer Myfanwy Evans (whom he later married in 1937) set up their own magazine 'Axis'. At this time he also collaborated with his poet friend John Betjeman on the famous Shell Guides. During the war he was commissioned to record bomb damage, most notably London, Bristol & Coventry & in 1944 he was made an official war artist.
As well as his huge output of abstract work he is also best remembered for his paintings of churches, castles & stately homes. He was also an author of books, prolific photographer, etcher, printmaker, designer of scenery & costumes for opera, ballet & theatre, created murals, stained glass for schools, colleges, churches & cathedrals as well as designs for tapestries & fabrics & in later years began making ceramics.
In 1964, Piper produced a portfolio consisting of 25 stone lithographs, in editions of 70, titled A Retrospect of Churches and printed by Curwen Studio.
An operation in 1987 left him visibly damaged, he was also suffering from the onset of Alzheimers. He died at his home in Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire on the 28th of June 1992.