John Piper

Coast of Brittany II


Not on display

John Piper 1903–1992
Paper and watercolour on paper
Support: 571 × 781 mm
Presented by the Art Fund with the assistance of the bequest of Dennis Daybell 1962

Display caption

In the summer of 1960 Piper worked on the coast of Brittany. On his return to Henley he made a group of large collages of which this is one. These collages are distinct in format and technique, using the dispersed paint to represent the horizontal lines of the open landscape, and cut marbled papers to represent particular features. These works demonstrate Piper's ability to translate his sensations from the natural world into a series of tones and colour harmonies. This particular collage also shows his continued interest in the colour techniques of the Fauves and of Raoul Dufy, whose work he had admired since the 1930s.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Coast of Brittany II 1961


Papier collé and watercolour on wove paper
570 x 788 (22 1/2 x 31)

Inscribed in yellow chalk 'John Piper' b.l.

Purchased from the artist with a sum bequeathed by Dennis Daybell through the National Art Collections Fund with assistance from the National Art Collections Fund 1962

Extended loan, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, 1978-9
John Piper: Painting in Coloured Light: An Exhibition of Stained Glass and Related Works, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, Dec. 1982-Jan. 1983 (32)

Tate Gallery Report 1961-62, London 1962, p.29
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, II, London 1965, p.524

Coast of Brittany II and its companion Coast of Brittany I (T00487), with which it is consistently exhibited, were made after Piper's visit to France in the summer of 1960. He told the Tate Gallery that they were 'executed [in] 1961 at Fawley Bottom from (or rather, in relation to) watercolours and sketches done ... in the summer of 1960, on the north coast of Finistère. I did (and am still doing) many studies of this rocky coast ... which I visited again in the summer of 1961' (letter to the Tate Gallery, 9 July 1962). Both collages were begun on heavy cream wove paper, over which a wax resist of roughly horizontal lines was drawn prior to the watercolour wash. The same technique was used for some of the additional collage elements which were combined with plain papers. The ultramarine papers with curved edges in Coast of Brittany II were cut from a single piece. The technique shows signs of haste: there are tears in right side, and the glue has yellowed over time which shows that it was squeezed out from under the papers and across other areas.

General issues relating to these collages are discussed in the entry on Coast of Brittany I (Tate Gallery T00487).

Matthew Gale
August 1996

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