Justin Pieris Daraniyagala (1903-1967) was one of Sri Lanka’s finest painters. Education at S. Thomas's College, Mount Lavinia, his early art training started at Gate Mudaliyar A. C. G. S. Amarasekera’s art school and under Charles Freegrove Winzer. In 1921 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge where he earned a Boxing Blue and graduated with a law degree in 1924. Thereafter, he entered the Slade School of Fine Arts where he obtained the first prize for drawing in 1928. While spending many years in London and Paris studying and working with the best of European painters, Daraniyagala came under the influence of great modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Georges Braque. His drawings and watercolors from this period are considered among the finest in contemporary Sri Lankan paintings.
A founder member of the ‘43 Group, Daraniyagala was one of the seven Ceylonese artists whose work was hung at the 28th Venice Biennial, the world’s biggest exhibition of contemporary art at the time. He won the UNESCO Award at the show. One of the few Ceylonese painters to be popular in Europe, Daraniyagala was described by critics as one of the finest expressionist painters whose skill is second to none. Upon returning to Ceylon, he continued to paint from his ancestral home in Nugadola, Pasyala until his death.