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Tree of Life

© the Piper Estate / DACS 2024. Photo credit: The Stained Glass Museum

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John Piper (1903–1992) was an established painter, printmaker and stage designer before taking up stained glass at the age of 48. Piper greatly admired the work of Henri Matisse, who used colourful paper cut-outs to make maquettes for stained-glass windows. This cartoon for a window for St John's Church, Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, was made by Piper using paper cut-outs, watercolour, pen and gouache. Piper has designed a Tree of Life, one of his favourite motifs, by using the sculpted masonry of the central mullion of the window to represent a tree and branches. Lively birds, cut from marbled paper, inhabit the luxuriant foliage and overhead the earth and heavens appear in the tracery light. The final window was made by Patrick Reyntiens (1925–2021), a talented stained glass artist who produced a number of Piper's windows.

The Stained Glass Museum



Tree of Life




mixed media including watercolour, wax crayon, graphite pencil & paper cut-outs


H 222 x W 136 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

gift, 1980

Work type

Mixed media & collage


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Normally on display at

The Stained Glass Museum

South Triforium Ely Cathedral, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4DL England

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