John Piper artworks bought for Towner

  • 22 November 2011

Two key pieces by 20th-century British artist John Piper have been bought for Eastbourne's contemporary art museum, Towner…

John Piper, Newhaven, 1937 © The Piper Estate

John Piper, Newhaven, 1937

Two key pieces by 20th-century British artist John Piper have been bought for Eastbourne's contemporary art museum, Towner, with help from the Art Fund. Newhaven, The Castle (1934) and Newhaven (1937), which featured in Towner's hit exhibition John Piper in Kent & Sussex earlier this year, were purchased following an Art Fund grant and a public appeal.

The works

Newhaven, The Castle (1934) and Newhaven (1937) show Piper depicting the same subject, three years apart. Despite their shared subject the two paintings have a very different feel, a sign of Piper's fast-paced development during a period in which he was at the cutting edge of British art. The Newhaven paintings were created at a time when Piper was working closely with Eric Ravilious, an English painter whose works feature prominently in Towner's permanent collection.

Councillor Neil Stanley said, 'We were absolutely delighted by the positive response to our appeal, with the vast majority of visitors taking the opportunity to give a small donation, and it is their generosity that made these acquisitions possible. Towner is also immensely grateful to the Art Fund, the V&A and the Friends of the Towner for their vital contribution towards the purchase of these two significant pieces of British art, which really will make an important addition to our collection here in Eastbourne.'

John Piper

John Piper (1903–1992) was an English artist known predominantly for his paintings of the British landscape. After an early flirtation with abstraction he adopted a distinctive, naturalistic style, and in the '30s he developed a close relationship with painter Eric Ravilious. Piper was appointed an official war artist in World War II from 1940 to 1942, attracting widespread praise for his paintings of bomb damage following air raids.

In his later career he undertook a number of collaborations, working with poet John Betjeman, potter Geoffrey Eastop and artist Ben Nicholson. He designed the stained glass windows for Coventry Cathedral with artist Patrick Reyntiens, became involved with set design for the theatre and wrote extensively on modern art.