Piper first visited Portland in 1929 but he did not start working there until 1948. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, this rocky headland in Dorset was painted and drawn by Piper probably more often than any other place. The present work shows St. George's Church but, like many of Piper's pictures, although it is tied to a specific place it is not intended to be topographically accurate. Combining landscape with abstraction, Piper understood place as somewhere past and present could meet. In a BBC television programme that John Read made about Piper in 1955, he was filmed drawing and painting Portland. 'In a voice-over he explains that instead of copying what he saw he rearranged things so as to make an "elaborate symbol of the place; not a view, but a history"' (F. Spalding, John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art, Oxford, 2009, p. 332).