Aquatint entitled Bedford Square from John Piper’s Brighton Aquatints
This aquatint depicts a small square , opening onto the promenade at Hove, just east of Brunswick Terrace and Embassy Court building. The Regency houses are stuccoed, and some of them painted in yellows, greys and browns. Others are of unpainted stucco, and all their pale colours , in the words of John Piper, ‘mingle like the counterpoint in the slow movement of a symphony. The verandahs and awnings provide their decorative motif and in their bowed house fronts Piper saw an ebullience that suited the seaside scene. Piper declared that ‘They are, in feeling, as near as English architecture ever is to the spirit of a Rowlandson print – a rare English spirit that combines health and heartiness with sense and elegance.
For Piper ‘On a misty October morning the beauty of shapes and colours in Bedford Square takes the breath away. The yellow and grey houses appear through the faint yellow-grey mist; the sea begins to sparkle with prickly sunlight beyond the fanciful bandstand on the promenade- even the Brighton Corporation lamp-standard has a suitable gaiety.’
This aquatint is from the edition of 195 uncoloured prints out of the total edition of 250.
Print: Length 38cm; Width 25cm and Image: Length 27.5cm; Width 19cm
Condition: Very good for a print published in 1939; they are no discernible blemishes
A copy of the front page of the publication signed by John Piper will be provided to the purchaser.
A must for aficionados of John Piper prints.
Brighton Aquatints is John Piper’s only fully realized example of an ‘artist’s book’ and with its unique use of the aquatint medium throughout, it is a pivotal work of its time. It was published in 1939 by Gerald Duckworth, and through its aquatints it celebrates some of Brighton’s most iconic architecture: its Regency squares with their stuccoed and balconied houses; the Royal Pavilion in all its extravagance, and the filigree beauty of the West Pier and Victorian churches. Out of the original edition of 250, 55 special copies were hand-coloured, mostly by Piper himself, but also with the help of his friend the poet John Betjeman, who first suggested the idea for the book.
Running throughout John Piper’s extraordinarily productive artistic life,spanning six decades, was a creative tension between a positive
commitment to the modern and a profound desire to resuscitate and reinterpret certain English artistic traditions of the past. During his unusually fecund artistic career, Piper was a prolific painter,innovative and skilled printmaker, creator of iconic stained glass images,designer of theatrical and opera costumes and sets, pottery designer,maker of fabrics, tapestries and pyrotechnics, book illustrator and photographer. Piper’s work was essentially a celebration of British landscapes and architecture. His favourite motif was decaying and devastated buildings. Piper’s handling of colour, texture and perspective heightened the visual appeal of his romantic topography. Piper was a visual historian with a mission, fired by boundless energy and enthusiasm, a journey he began with his first public offering in 1939, Brighton Aquatints. His artistic legacy to Britain and her people that ranged over a variety of subjects and themes depicted a unique blend of versatile artistic imagination, technical skills, innovative prowess and egregious craftsmanship. Piper will best be remembered for his paintings and etchings of our churches, castles and stately homes.
As long as English cultural heritage survives as a distinct entity in our world that is getting increasingly globalised, We believe there will be a
place in it for John Piper, this most English of artists.
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