John Piper (1903 - 1992)

The Englishman’s Home, 1951

SKU: 4392
Oil on 42 panels, each panel 159 x 119 cm

Height – 477cm
Width – 1666cm


Harlow Art Trust; Private collection
The Festival of Britain, 1951, The South Bank A Tonic to the Nation, 1976, Victoria and Albert Museum

John Piper’s Festival of Britain Mural, Queen Elizabeth Hall, April-May 2011

British Design 1948-2012, 2012, Victoria and Albert Museum

The Englishman’s Home was painted in 1950 in the garden of the Artist’s home, Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire.


It was one of the key images of the Festival of Britain and is its largest surviving work of art. When the incoming Conservative government attempted to cut back on the cost and scale of the Festival Hugh Casson, the Festival’s director, singled out Piper’s contribution as the one mural on the South Bank we cannot afford to lose.

John Piper and Osbert Lancaster were the main designers of the South Bank pleasure Gardens for the festival. The Englishman’s Home adorned the exterior wall of the Homes and Gardens Pavilion.

Sir Frederick Gibberd, masterplanner of Harlow, selected this mural to be gifted to Harlow at the end of the Festival of Britain.

The mural was initially entrusted to the Harlow Development Corporation and then when the Harlow Art Trust was formed in 1953,the Trust took charge of all four works inherited from the Festival of Britain: Barbara Hepworth’sContrapuntal Forms and three large murals; Boats by Alan Sorrell, 1851 by Leonard Manasseh andThe Englishman’s Home by John Piper. The decision to gift these four pieces to the Harlow Art Trust was approved by the Minister of Housing and Local Government (The Rt. Hon. Hugh Dalton).

On the completion of Harlow Technical College in the early 1960s, the mural was installed in the Assembly Hall at the College. John Piper oversaw the installation of both this mural and a second mural commissioned for nearby St Paul’s Church. The installation of The Englishman’s Home involved removing a small section to make way for the entrance to the hall.

The mural remained at the College until 1992 when the building was firstly modified and later demolished and the College relocated to a new site.

Reading from left to right the first yellow building remains unidentified, followed by the Brighton Bow fronts of Regency Square, a Victorian villa (St Martin’s Avenue, Epsom, Surrey where Piper’s Mother’s lived), 6 Station Road, (Yeovil) with Kirby Hall behind and the Royal Arms over the gateway of East Barsham Manor in Norfolk to the right, followed by the dome of Castle Howard, Yorkshire, adapted slightly for compositional effect, (also incorporating aspects of the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford), with Owlpen Manor in Gloustershire to the right. Hillside Terraces, Brighton are depicted top right. The building to the far right remains unidentified.


IN 1951 The Peggy Guggenheim Collection at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice opened to the public.

New buildings, for The Festival of Britain, based on London’s South Bank, included The Royal Festival Hall by Leslie Martin, Peter Moro and Robert Matthew, Dome of Discovery by Ralph Tubbs.and Skylon by Philip Powell, Hidalgo Moya and Felix Samuely. Sculptures included Youth Advancing by Jacob Epstein; Reclining Figure: Festival by Henry Moore; Contrapunctal Forms and Turning Forms by Barbara Hepworth with Murals by Mary Fedden, Josef Herman and John Tunnard.

Exhibitions included Sixty Paintings for ’51 at the RBA Galleries] and a show of popular and traditional art, Black Eyes & Lemonade, organised by Barbara Jones at the Whitechapel Gallery.

ARTWORKS created in 1951 included:

Henri Matisse interior decoration of Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence.

Salvador Dalí – Christ of Saint John of the Cross

Lucian Freud – Interior in Paddington

Barnett Newman‚ Vir Heroicus Sublimis

Pablo Picasso‚ Massacre in Korea

Robert Rauschenberg‚ White Paintings

Humphrey Ocean and Jack Vettriano were born in 1951.

Wilfrid de Glehn, (b. 1871) and Frank Newbould (b. 1887) died in 1951.


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John Piper
1903 - 1992

Painter, notably of architecture and landscape, designer of stained glass and for the theatre, and writer, born in Epsom, Surrey. His first wife was the artist Eileen Holding, his second the writer Myfanwy Evans, and his son the artist Edward Piper. Form 1921-6 studied law and worked in his father’s solicitor’s office before studying at Richmond and Kingston Schools of Art and Royal College of Art, 1926-9.

In mid-1930s after a visit to Paris concentrated on abstract painting, but then reverted to representational work. First solo show, of collages and drawings, at London Gallery, 1938. Member of LG in 1033 and 7 & 5 Society, 1934-5. Piper was a prolific writer, working for The Athenaeum, New Statesman, Nation and Architectural Review, publishing his first guide book in 1938. With his wife he produced the influential Axis ‘ a Quarterly Review of Contemporary “Abstract” Painting and Sculpture, 1935-7. From 1940 for about 20 years had one-man shows with Leicester Galleries. His ballet designs included The Quest, 1943 and Job, 1948, as well as operas for Benjamin Britten. Piper was an Official War Artist in World War II. In 1942, he published his best-selling monograph English Romantic Artists. Was on several occasions a trustee of Tate Gallery, member of the Arts Council panel and a member of Royal Fine Art Commission. Stained glass window designs included Coventry Cathedral and Christchurch College Chapel, Oxford. Made Companion of Honour, 1972. Retrospectives were held at Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1979, and Tate Gallery, 1983. Goldmark Gallery, Uppingham gave Piper centenary shows in 2002 and 2003 and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, one in 2003, the year that Dulwich Picture Gallery staged John Piper in the 1930s and Sherborne House, Dorset, its exhibition John Piper: A Versatile Artist. The Tate, Arts Council and many provincial galleries hold his work. Died at Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire.



John Piper (1903 - 1992)
Caernarvon Castle II
John Piper (1903 - 1992)
The Englishman’s Home, 1951