John Piper, C.H. (1903-1992)
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John Piper, C.H. (1903-1992)

Poulfoen, Brittany

Details
John Piper, C.H. (1903-1992)
Poulfoen, Brittany
inscribed and dated 'Polfoen[sic]/Brittany/1959' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
36 x 48 in. (91.5 x 122 cm.)
Provenance
with Marlborough Gallery, London.
Acquired directly from the artist's family by the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Marlborough Fine Art, John Piper Retrospective, 1967, no. 79, dated 1959.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Louise Simpson
Louise Simpson

Lot Essay

Poulfoen is a small beachside settlement situated near Plouescat in the Finistere region of Brittany, France. The landscapes here are less dramatic and more desolate than those found on other sections of the Brittany coastline but this location, and its views out to sea, clearly caught John Piper's attention as it became the subject of several of his works in various media including drawings (one, almost certainly done on the spot, dated 1960), collages (from 1961-3) and a celebrated lithograph, Brittany Beach (Levinson 117), which was published by Curwen Studio in 1962.

The present work appears to have been painted in an energetic fashion, leaving hardened clots and splashes of paint on the surface of the canvas. This is in contrast with the smoother, more formal presentation of Piper's oils made during most of the 1950s. This painting, and others by Piper which date from the same period, may reflect the influence of works by the abstract expressionist painters which were shown in London in the late 1950s, notably at the Tate Gallery exhibition The New American Painting in 1959, although the influence of Piper's hero Turner (well known for his imaginatively coloured seascapes) may also be apparent. John Piper was preparing works for a show at Durlacher, New York, to be held in October 1961, and this provides another American connection.

The dates of other works depicting Poulfoen, and the style of the present painting, would suggest that it was executed a year or so later than 1959 (which was the date of an early trip by Piper to another part of Brittany, and is the date with which the back of the canvas is inscribed), perhaps in 1960 or 1961.

We are very grateful to Rev. Dr Stephen Laird FSA for preparing this catalogue entry.
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