John Piper
Seaton Delaval 1941

Artwork details

John Piper 1903–1992
Seaton Delaval
Date 1941
Medium Oil paint on canvas on wood
Dimensions Support: 711 x 883 mm
frame: 942 x 1117 x 83 mm
Acquisition Presented by Sir Kenneth Clark (later Lord Clark of Saltwood) through the Contemporary Art Society 1946
Not on display

Display caption

The baroque castle of Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, was built by John Vanbrugh between 1718 and 1729 and destroyed by fire in 1822. Piper visited the castle in 1941. He had previously made records of major buildings in anticipation of their destruction through bombing or modernisation. He had also recorded bomb-damage, and found parallels between the ruined castle and these recent subjects. The image seems to be both a nostalgic lament for a lost time and a statement about the present. Piper described the castle’s colouring as ‘ochre and flame licked red, pock-marked and stained... incredibly up-to-date: very much of our times’.

July 2007

About this artwork