David Piper (curator)

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Sir David Towry Piper CBE FSA FRSL (21 July 1918 – 29 December 1990) was a British museum curator and author. He was director of the National Portrait Gallery 1964–1967, and of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1967–1973; and Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, 1967–1973, and Director of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1973–85 and Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford, 1973–1985. He was knighted in 1983.

He was Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford for 1966–67.[1]

In 1956, he prepared a descriptive catalogue of the Petre family portraits at Ingatestone Hall for the Essex Record Office.[2]

Under the pseudonym Peter Towry, Piper wrote a number of novels, including Trial by Battle (1959), a story based on his experiences as a prisoner of war in Japan for three years during World War II.[3]


His publications include:

  • Petre Family Portraits. Essex Record Office Publication No 26. 1956. 
  • The English Face. Thames & Hudson. 1957. 

as Peter Towry:

  • Richard said no ... Morrow. 1953. 
  • It's warm inside. Chatto and Windus. 1953. 
  • Lord Minimus, a heroic comedy. Chatto and Windus. 1955. 
  • Trial by battle. Hutchinson. 1959. 
  • Please count your change. Macmillan. 1962. 


  1. ^ "Oxford Slade Professors, 1870–present" (PDF). University of Oxford. 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  2. ^ Piper, David (1956). Petre family Portraits. Essex Record Office Publication No 26. 
  3. ^ "David Piper, 72, Dies; British Art Historian". New York Times. 4 January 1991. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  • R. J. B. Walker, ‘Piper, Sir David Towry (1918–1990)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2007 accessed 5 March 2013
  • ‘PIPER, Sir David (Towry)’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2012 ; online edn, Nov 2012 accessed 5 March 2013