John Piper’s (1903-1992) career in art spanned over sixty years and has incorporated a huge range of artistic media including printmaking, painting, drawing and illustration, photography, stained glass, fabric design, murals, stage sets and costume design. However, Piper is most well known for his prints and paintings of the romantic heritage of Britain; his explorations of rural Britain throughout his life (a passion that started with bicycle adventures in his native Surrey as a boy) have much influence on his paintings. In his prints, his subject matter was predominately architectural; often abbeys, churches, houses, castles, cottages or details of architectural design. Dramatic, romantic combinations of colour, calligraphic line and experimental textures are the tenets of his oeuvre.
Piper was taught at Epsom College, and then trained at the Richmond School of Art and later the Royal College of Art in London (1926-28). After this, he went on to write art criticism for the Listener and the Nation. During the 1930s Piper flirted with abstraction – leading to the foundation of ‘Axis’ magazine (which advocated abstract art) with his wife Myfanwy.