John Piper at the Whitworth

John Piper, Rocks at Capel Curig. c.1950. © The John Piper Estate

John Piper, Rocks at Capel Curig. c.1950. © The John Piper Estate. Source: Whitworth website

The Whitworth Gallery in Manchester are currently showing the exhibition of pictures by John Piper of landscapes in North Wales that I saw last year at the National Museum of Art in Cardiff.  John Piper: The Mountains of Wales – Paintings and Drawings from a Private Collection features a large number of paintings of Snowdonia that the artist had produced while visiting the region during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Having enjoyed looking at the paintings last year, I was keen to have another look and wasn’t disappointed. Many of them are almost abstract, but the well known features such as “the Devil’s Kitchen”, Snowdon and Cader Idris were clearly recognisable. As I commented in the report from my previous visit in Cardiff, I think that Piper successfully captured the rugged beauty and the atmosphere of the wild landscape of Snowdonia.

In the gallery next door to the Piper exhibition the Whitworth is showing exhibition of drawings and watercolours from its own collection of watercolours  of the Welsh landscape. Sublime: Watercolours of the Welsh Landscape. For me, these much more realistic depictions of the landscape were less inspiring than Piper’s dramatic paintings, but were still worth a look.

It was interesting to compare George Fennel Robson’s watercolour of the “Devil’s Kitchen”,

 The Devil's Kitchen, Llyn Idwal, Caernarvonshire, Wales

George Fennel Robson’s The Devil’s Kitchen, Llyn Idwal, Caernarvonshire, Wales Source: Whitworth website

with Piper’s ink and watercolour painting from more or less the same viewpoint.

Cwm Idal, 1949,  John Piper

Cwm Idwal, 1949 by John Piper Source National Museum of Wales website

The exhibition also included a display of rocks and minerals from Manchester Museum (both the Whitworth and the Museum are affiliated to Manchester University) that I found quite interesting in themselves.

The Piper exhibition closes on 7 April, which is a pity, as I’d like to go back for another look. But I may have the chance sometime over the Easter break.

2 thoughts on “John Piper at the Whitworth

    • Not yet, John. But I believe that the Gallery is shutting down completely after the current crop of exhibitions have finished. Need to check that’s correct, though.

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