Art: Romantic Realist

At 49, Englishman John Piper is in an enviable spot. His paintings are pleasant enough to appeal to middlebrows but abstract enough to satisfy the critics and all but the most austere highbrows (who think his work "too pretty"). The result: his paintings are in brisk demand, and his reputation continues to grow. Last week 31 new Piper oils and watercolors were on view in London, and the public flocked to see.

Piper's latest subjects are conventional enough: fountains and flowers, church courtyards, an island hotel, a village pump, a lime kiln. What made the paintings unmistakably Pipers were the colors...

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