Piper was an English painter, print-maker 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. He was educated at Epsom College and trained at Richmond School of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art, London. He turned from abstraction early in his career, concentrating on a more naturalistic approach. As well as being official war artist in World War II, he also collaborated with many others including the poets John Betjeman and Geoffrey Grigson on the Shell Guides and the artist Ben Nicholson. In later years he produced many limited edition prints.
John Piper, CH (1903-1992), Variations on Ancient Seals, VI, early 1950's
Oil on board with canvas collage (26.5 x 51 cm)
Piper made a series of ‘variations’ of pictures of Cretan seals. These were exhibited at the Leicester Galleries in the early to mid-50’s. These seals are gem stones with strange hieroglyphic symbols produced in Minoan culture around 3,100 to 1,100 B.C. Piper had been introduced to the subject by his friend, the Rev. Victor Kenna (1899-1978), an authority on the period. Hugh Fowler-Wright describes the pictures as “jewels of rich colours”.