Sir David Piper; Museum Director, Art Historian

<i> Associated Press</i>

Sir David Piper, an internationally known art historian and museum director, has died of heart failure at his home. He was 72.

Piper, who had been ill for some time with emphysema, died Saturday in Wytham near Oxford, his family said.

Between 1964 and 1985 Piper directed three of Britain’s finest museums, the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Ashmolean in Oxford and the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge. He had spent an 18-year apprenticeship at the portrait gallery before becoming its director.

His most widely praised books and art catalogues include “The English Face” in 1957, a study of portraits and the relationship between artist and model.


Piper’s “Companion Guide to London,” published in 1964, captured the atmosphere of the British capital and was ranked among the best guides to the city.

He also wrote novels under the pseudonym Peter Towry.

Piper served in the Indian army during World War II and was a prisoner of the Japanese for three years, an experience that he put into his 1959 novel, “Trial by Battle.”

Survivors include his wife, Anne, one son and three daughters.