Sketch for a Construction, 1933

Guy Peppiatt Fine Art Ltd

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John Piper (1903-1992)
Sketch for a Construction, 1933
Pen and ink and chalk on laid paper
5 3/8 x 6 1/2 in. • 135 x 165 mm
Signed lower right and dated 1933 upper left under mount


With Marlborough Fine Art, 1964;
Bought from the above by the present owner's father


Robert Melville, John Piper, exhibition catalogue, 1964, no.9, ill. p.19;

Anthony West, John Piper, 1979, p.64 (ill.17);

John Piper, exhibition catalogue, 1983, no.12, ill. p.83</p

Exhibition History

London, Marlborough Fine Art, John Piper – retrospective exhibition, March 1964, no.9;

London, Tate Gallery, John Piper, 13 November 1983 to 22nd January 1984, no. 12</p

Further Information

Executed in 1933, this work on paper by Piper was completed in the decade that was of utmost importance for British Modernism. During the 1930s Piper became close to Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson through the Seven and Five Society. First formed in 1919, Nicholson joined in 1924, and steered the society away from traditionalism, somewhat controversially, expelling all artists who did not conform to his view of modernism and were not equally committed to abstraction. Piper joined the society in 1934, the year after the present work was created, and we can clearly see in it his credentials for membership. Very few works on paper by Piper from this period exist, and arguably none as pioneering as Sketch for a Construction in their final form. Despite being a sketch, the work is highly finished and the complex interlocking concept appears complete. This decade sees Piper creating highly experimental works, paintings and collages as well as works on paper, engaging with the ideas of his continental counterparts Braque and Picasso, in his quest to explore the boundaries of his medium. Ever evolving as an artist, the 1940s saw Piper move stylistically closer to the neo-romantic movement. Piper had a long career, spanning over seven decades which went on to include stained glass as well as a medium. His later work of landscapes and churches is perhaps most distilled in the public mindset when considering Piper, however it is important to consider these in the context of his work in the 1930s in order to fully understand the trajectory and virtuosity of this fabulous artist. These 1930s works are extremely rare and sought after and it is no surprise this work was requested for public display in the 1980 retrospective at the Tate as it is indubitably an exquisite example of this period of his practice