John Piper (specifically John Egerton Christmas Piper) was born on December 13, 1903, in Epsom. After the death of his father in 1926, Piper was able to leave his late father's firm to apply to the Royal College of Art in South Kensington. Unfortunately he was rejected, as his skills in drawing nudes did not seem satisfactory. Only after being taken in at the Richmond School of Art was Piper able to change later to the Royal College to study painting.
There Piper met Charles Mahoney, Morris Kestleman, and Tom Monnington, all of whom effected a lasting influence on the young artist. After his education, John Piper had to earn his living with magazine articles and articles on art criticism, because paintings at that time were almost impossible to sell. Only after allying himself with the group of artists around Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Howard Hodgkins, and Barbara Hepworth was Piper able to enter the scene of modern painters.
During the Second World War, art production was impractical, as canvasas, oil paints, brushes, and paper were extremely hard to come by. On the other hand, no one had money to buy art. The situation for Piper and his fellow artists became better under a program by the British government in which artists were paid to produce murals for propagandistic purposes.
John Piper, who like Moore did not have to serve in the army, painted pictures of bombed out, destroyed buildings. This subject became characteristic for Piper's work after the war. With his colors, textures, and chosen perspectives, Piper produced a deep, gripping impression with his romantic topographies.
John Piper died on June 27, 1992, in Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire.