JOHN PIPER, C.H. (1903-1992)
Muchelney farmyard
signed 'John Piper' (lower left)
ink, watercolour and gouache on paper
1338 x 2078 in. (34 x 52.7 cm.)
Executed in 1940-41.
Gifted by the artist to Walter Goetz on the occasion of his wedding, circa 1941, and by descent.
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Lot Essay

During 1940 John Piper’s personal style was evolving rapidly and it is from this period that some of his most distinctive and immediately recognisable paintings and mixed media drawings emerged, with the current lot being a particularly characteristic example. Executed during the winter of 1940-41, this work displays a collage-like juxtaposition of forms, colours and textures, reminding us that during most of the 1930s Piper, influenced by the modern movement, was a leading British abstract painter. Meanwhile its palette, atmosphere and subject-matter reflects Piper’s well-documented enthusiasm for the work of Samuel Palmer (1805-1881), a Romantic artist and associate of William Blake; and John Sell Cotman (1782-1842), a topographical painter and etcher who had a special enthusiasm for ancient churches and monastic buildings.

An oil painting which is very closely related to the present lot, inscribed 1941 and also entitled 'Muchelney Farmyard, 1940 (sic.)' (20" x 24") is illustrated (plate 82) in the volume 'John Piper: Paintings, Drawings and Theatre Designs 1932-1954' by S John Woods, published by Curt Valentin in 1955 (unpaginated) and once again referred to in David Fraser Jenkins and Hugh Fowler-Wright, 'The Art of John Piper', Unicorn Publishing and Portland Gallery, 2016, p.171.

Muchelney Abbey, located in the Somerset Levels of Southern England, was once a Benedictine monastic house but the foundation was dissolved under Henry VIII in 1538 and few of its buildings now remain. The site can be still be visited and is under the care of the conservation charity English Heritage.

We are very grateful to Rev. Dr Stephen Laird FSA for preparing this catalogue entry.

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