National Museum Wales purchases John Piper collection
A major collection of works by the artist John Piper has been acquired by the National Museum Wales. Now on display at the Museum in Cardiff, I took the opportunity to view these last weekend.
Although hailing from Epsom in Surrey, Piper (1903-92) spent many years painting the mountains, valleys and rivers of Wales. The John Piper collection, bought from a private collector with links to Wales, is worth close to £1m and has been paid for with contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Derek Williams Trust and the Art Fund. The works were previously exhibited at the museum in 2012 while still under private ownership. Proving popular then it has been decided that it is important to add them to the representation of Piper’s work in the national collection.
Piper's first major painting trip to Wales occurred in 1936, shortly after marrying his second wife Myfanwy. He visited Pembrokeshire and West Wales then, but returned during the 1940s. In 1943 he was commissioned by the War Artists Advisory Committee to record the interior of the quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where many valuable artworks were stored to avoid damage during London’s blitz. This current collection is mostly of landscapes in Snowdonia with titles such as Rocks at Capel Curig, Rock Formations and The Rise of the Dovey. They are often brooding and atmospheric and not dissimilar to some of Turner’s work of over 100 years earlier.
See them in the Contemporary Art gallery at the Museum as part of an exhibition inspired by Wales's folklore and landscape, including works by Graham Sutherland and a film of Allen Ginsberg’s lengthy poem ‘Wales Visitation’.