TWO paintings of Portland by a prolific British artist are expected to fetch up to a combined £47,000 at auction.

John Piper’s works will go under the hammer later this month in Christie’s sale of 20th century British and Irish Art.

The late artist’s oil painting entitled ‘Portland’ has been estimated at between £25,000 and £35,000, while his oil and collage piece called ‘Portland Bill’ is estimated to make between £8,000 and £12,000.

Piper, who died aged 89 in 1992, celebrated the British landscape and its architecture in his work, best known for his abstract work and paintings of churches, castles and stately homes.

The 20in by 24in canvas ‘Portland’ is signed by Piper and dated 1953.

Speaking in an exhibition catalogue about his painting, he describes the island as a place ‘too extraordinary for words on the map’.

He said: “My discovery of Portland was very important to me. I think it was in the late 1920s that I first went there in a very old Morris Cowley with Miles Marshall.

“I am a map-lover and Portland looks too extraordinary for words on the map, so does the adjoining Chesil beach. At that time Portland Bill was much more untidy, with great blocks of stone lying about on the low quarry shore in magnificent disarray.

“The derricks for loading the blocks onto the boats stood among a very small scatter of beach huts, dominated by the great triangular, pyramidal sea-mark and the black and red striped lighthouse.

“The foreshore is now more ship-shape, holidaymakers come in crowds.

“Inland too there is a lot of development but the character remains: large-scale, airy, maritime, naval, above all workaday, and not picturesque, except by accident.”

The 6inx8in ‘Portland Bill’ is dated 1950 and is to be sold with a copy of the letter from Piper to the current owner, dated August 22, 1975.

The letter said: “The small painting you sent a photograph of, was one of quite a series I did at the time – about 1950 – of the same subject, more or less.

“That is, of blocks of newly quarried stone at Portland [Dorset] lying on, or near, the beach, beside fishermen's huts.

“They [the pictures] were of all shapes and sizes and some in oil, some in gouache, some pen and ink and watercolour.”

Both paintings will go up for auction on May 26 at Christie’s, London, along with three other of Piper’s paintings.