John Piper (1903-1992):
The Englishman's Home, 1951
Unframed (ref: 4392)
Oil on 42 panels, each panel 62 5/8 x 46 7/8 in. (159 x 119 cm.)
(187 3/4 x 609 in. (477 x 1547 cm.) overall)
Provenance: Harlow Art Trust
Exhibited: The Festival of Britain, 1951, The South Bank
A Tonic to the Nation, 1976, Victoria and Albert Museum
John Piper's Festival of Britain Mural, Queen Elizabeth Hall, April-May 2011
British Design 1948-2012, 2012, Victoria and Albert Museum
The Englishman's Home was painted in 1950 in the garden of the Artist's home, Fawley Bottom, Oxfordshire.
It was one of the key images of the Festival of Britain and is its largest surviving work of art. When the incoming Conservative government attempted to cut back on the cost and scale of the Festival Hugh Casson, the Festival's director, singled out Piper's contribution as the one mural on the South Bank we cannot afford to lose.
Piper and Osbert Lancaster were
the main designers of the South Bank pleasure Gardens for the festival.
The Englishman's Home adorned the exterior wall of the Homes and
Sir Frederick Gibberd, masterplanner of Harlow, selected this mural to be gifted to Harlow at the end of the Festival of Britain.
The mural was initially entrusted to the Harlow Development Corporation and then when the Harlow Art Trust was formed in 1953, the Trust took charge of all four works inherited from the Festival of Britain: Barbara Hepworth’s Contrapuntal Forms and three large murals; Boats by Alan Sorrell, 1851 by Leonard Manasseh and The Englishman’s Home by John Piper. The decision to gift these four pieces to the Harlow Art Trust was approved by the Minister of Housing and Local Government (The Rt. Hon. Hugh Dalton).
On the completion of Harlow Technical
College in the early 1960s, the mural was installed in the Assembly
Hall at the College. John Piper oversaw the installation of both this
mural and a second mural commissioned for nearby St Paul’s Church. The
installation of The Englishman’s Home involved removing a small
section to make way for the entrance to the hall.
The mural remained at the College until
1992 when the building was firstly modified and later demolished and
the College relocated to a new site.