John Piper was a painter, print-maker, stained-glass maker, writer and
stage-designer who started his working career in his fathers law
firm in Westminster. When his father died in 1924 he seized the opportunity
to study painting, lithography (a type of printing) and stained glass
at Richmond and then the Royal College of Art. Piper met some of the major
artists of the day, such as Braque, Leger and Brancusi, and, during the
1930s he exhibited with the 7 & 5 Society along with Ben
Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth.
He was deeply inspired by landscape and this is reflected in his work
throughout his career. He was also an excellent war-artist who produced
haunting watercolours of bombed-out churches, and who received a number
of stained-glass commissions for destroyed churches after the war. These
included the famous baptistry window at Coventry Cathedral (completed
1962). His work as a writer included The Shell Guide to Oxfordshire
- a commission he received from John Betjeman.
The 7 and 5 Society
The 7 and 5 Society was founded in 1920 and consisted of a group of seven
English figurative painters and five sculptors. In 1934 John Piper was
elected a member, and later secretary, of the Society. He was included
in the 13th exhibition of the society at the Leicester Galleries, London,
along with Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson.