After beginning a career in law, John Piper began to study art in 1926 at the Richmond School of Art before attending the Royal College. From 1928 to 1933 he wrote as an artÂ critic for the 'Listener' and the 'Nation' and in 1935 became art editor of the avant-garde quarterly Axis.
Piper's early paintings were abstract and almost always non-representational. Under the influence of the more poetic forms of Surrealism he reverted in the later 1930s to a Romantic Naturalism.
Following his early interest in architecture, he painted Topographical fantasies of great houses in decay. He was a war artist and was commissioned to record the effects of war in Britain. Piper's work diversified and achieved greater maturity in the 1950s. His work for the ballet 'Job' at Covent Garden led to many important commissions for stage designs at Glynebourne and elsewhere. He made stained glass for Llandaff and Coventry Cathedrals and worked with Osbert Lancaster on the spectacular main vista of the Festival Gardens. During this period, his easel pictures took on the rich character of tapestries or theatre backcloths.
John Piper was one of Britains leading artists, a pioneer in many fields, war artist, printmaker, stage designer and one of the the greatest Twentieth Century designer in stained glass.