John Piper C.H. (British 1903-1992)
Nursery Frieze II

500 x 1250 mm
Lithograph 1936

One of Piper’s many seascapes, Frieze II is an exercise in abstract capriccio. Piper draws together the muted grey, pink, and blue of the lithograph’s fragmented background with foreground details in black, white, and bright red, picking out particular moments of the frieze for the viewer.

The lighthouse has no keeper; the beach and the pier are empty; the train has neither passengers nor driver. The church at the top of the rocky hill is a brilliant cubist borrowing, showing both the West end and the North side simultaneously – and it has no congregation. The only human figures present in the frieze are those collected around the bonfire, watching the flames and the show of fireworks. The scene is at once devoid of people and intensely human. Piper was just 24 when he made Frieze II.

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Condition: Generally very good, backed to linen with small – and largely not visible – areas of restoration.