John Piper (1903 – 1992)

Façade (1987)



45 x 60 cm

Numbered 96/108 lower left and signed lower right, both in pencil. Printed by Piper and the screenprinter Chris Prater in 1987 after the original designs from 1942.

‘Façade’ was a sequence of poems written by the English poet Edith Sitwell. They were set to music by William Walton in 1922, four years after they were first written. ‘Façade’ premiered in 1923 in London, and was praised for its experimental modernist style. The choreographer Frederick Ashton made Façade into a ballet in 1931; Sitwell did not wish her poems to be included, but Walton’s orchestral arrangements were used.

John Piper was commissioned as set designer for a 1942 performance of Facade in 1942. This lithograph is the design for the performance’s curtain; the poetry and music of the performance were played behind the curtain, unseen by the audience. The Gothic house to the right was inspired by Eaton Hall in Cheshire, and we also see a folly, lake, and wood typical of an English country house. The moon, butterfly, and dragonfly lend themselves to the scene’s dreamlike aspects, and the mask in the centre of the design highlights the collaborative nature of Façade – a salute to poetry, music, art, and even architecture.

John Piper CH was an English painter, printmaker, and designer of stained-glass windows. His work often focused on the British landscape, especially churches and monuments, and included tapestry designs, book jackets, screen-prints, photography, fabrics and ceramics.

Condition: very good.

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