John Piper’s The Quay, Exeter shows the historic Custom House and Harbour Master’s Office on the quayside at Exeter, Devon.

The picture appeared as the central image in an article entitled Warmth in the West in The Architectural Review in 1944.
Piper was born in Epsom, Surrey and trained at Richmond School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. Early in his career he moved from an abstract style to more figurative work and later became celebrated for his neo-Romantic landscape paintings and architectural studies. He is also known for his stained glass, set designs and writing and illustrations for Shell Guides and other publications.
During the 1930s, Piper began making works that merged collage and painting. These included the studies of East Devon villages that he made in 1936 to illustrate an article in volume 79 of The Architectural Review. The Quay, Exeter may have been made at this time.
This evocative study of historic local buildings (the Custom House, built in 1680-81, is often regarded as the oldest remaining structure of its type in Britain), complete with the artist’s handwritten notes on their materials and colours, now becomes the first work by Piper to enter the Royal Albert Memorial Museum’s collection.


The work was commissioned by the Architectural Review for an article entitled 'Warmth in the West'. The work was then held by The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln. It was sold at Christies on 5th November 1999 (lot 3

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