Lot 50
  • 50

John Piper, C.H.

70,000 - 100,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • John Piper, C.H.
  • forms on green ground
  • oil on canvas
  • 152.5 by 183cm.; 60 by 72in.


The artist, and thence by descent


London, Brook Street Gallery;
Oxford, Museum of Modern Art, John Piper: 50 Years of Work, 20 May - 29 July 1979, no.16; with tour to The Minories, Colchester;
Cambridge, Kettle's Yard Gallery, Circle: international survey of constructive art, February – March 1982, no.33;
London, The Tate Gallery, John Piper, 30 November 1983 - 22 January 1984, no.23.
London, Imperial War Museum, John Piper: The Forties, 19 October 2000 - 28 January 2001, no.1, illustrated in the catalogue, p.61;
Henley-on-Thames, The River and Rowing Museum, John Piper Centenary: Crossing Boundaries, 14 November 2003 - 29 February 2005, no.5.


Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo and J.L. Martin (eds), Circle, New York, 1971, no.26, illustrated;
S.John Woods, John Piper: Paintings, Drawings & Theatre Designs 1932-1954, Curt Valentin, New York 1955, pl.23 (size erroneously given as 36 by 48in.).


The following condition report has been prepared by the restorer Hamish Dewar. Structural Condition The canvas has at some stage been lined and this has successfully stabilised what would appear to be a number of fractures and tears in the paint surface. Paint surface The paint surface has a very degraded varnish layer (consistent with being stored in damp conditions) and surface cleaning should considerably improve the overall appearance giving far greater depth to the pigments with an improved surface coating. It has been suggested that the painting was partially repainted by the artist and the repair to the canvas and infilling and inpainting also are by Piper. The nature of the fluorescence (where large areas of a different pigment have been applied at a later date) and the manner in which the paint has been applied supports this theory. This is most evident in the white pigments where a different colour has been glazed over the original pigments. Summary The painting would therefore appear to have been damaged in the past, presumably while still with the artist, and was therefore lined ( I would assume by a conservator) and then retouched and partially repainted by the artist. Cleaning should result in a considerably improved overall appearance and a more even surface coating. The work is unframed. Please telephone the department on 020 7293 5381 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

As discussed in the note to the previous lot, Piper's abstract paintings of 1936 mark a very definite position in his oeuvre, the point where he both fully evolves a distinct and personal abstract style, yet begins to reintroduce external references into the paintings. Forms on Green Ground, one of the largest abstracts Piper produced, differs from Forms on Dark Blue (lot 49) primarily in the way that it feels more natural, the washed lichen-green stained into the canvas immediately giving a hint of a landscape in which the forms are placed, perhaps akin to the juxtaposition of a white horse or figure carved into the chalk of a hillside. The forms themselves have become more translucent, and the white outlines offer the viewer a feeling that they are able to see deep into the heart of the composition. Indeed, like his contemporary Paul Nash, Piper did make abstract constructions which he then photographed, and in the 1937 image Beach Object we can see forms that do seem to echo those of Forms on Green Ground.