John Piper, the son of a solicitor, was born in Epsom, Surrey. He studied at Epsom College and trained at the Richmond School of Art, Royal College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1925 to 1930. Earlier on in his career he pursued the lines of abstraction, influenced by artists such as Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. He became a member of the London Group and also the 7 & 5 Society. In the 1930s he illustrated several guide books to Britain and contributed to journals such as the Architectural Review as well as publishing books such as The Painter’s Object. However, it was in 1937 that he stopped experimenting with Abstraction and returned to representational art, focusing on subjects such as landscapes and architecture in the style of the nineteenth century English Romantics.
At the outbreak of World War II, Piper became an official war artist and painted a series of street scenes that evocatively portray the obliteration that the German bombs caused on some of Britain’s most iconic buildings. One of his most significant series of images was Interior of Coventry Cathedral, which was created after an air raid that destroyed Coventry Cathedral. Piper also was given a commission to paint twelve views of Windsor Castle for the Queen. Later in his life, his artistic approach broadened to fabric designs, mosaics, tapestries and stained glass windows.