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Glyn Philpot

(1884—1937) painter and sculptor


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British painter and sculptor, born in London. He studied at Lambeth School of Art, 1900–03, and at the Académie Julian, Paris, 1905. It was as a portraitist that Philpot had his main success, which was at its height in the 1920s. However, he also did a mural, Richard I Leaving England for the Crusades (1927), for St Stephen's Hall, Westminster, and had ambitions as a painter of allegories and religious subjects (he became a convert to Catholicism in 1905). Philpot grew tired of routine fashionable portraiture (however lucrative it was) and in 1931 he moved to Paris for a year and started working in a more modern idiom—flatter and more stylized than his earlier manner. The new style met with a mixed reception and some of Philpot's earlier admirers were dismayed: ‘Glyn Philpot “Goes Picasso”’, read a headline in the Scotsman on 30 April 1932. He died suddenly of heart failure in his London studio. The day after his funeral his friend and disciple Vivian Forbes (1891–1937) committed suicide; his behaviour had been unbalanced for several years. Philpot was out of fashion for many years, but his reputation began to revive in the 1970s (coinciding with a general renewal of interest in the Art Deco style, of which he is sometimes said to be a representative) and there was a major exhibition of his work at the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1984–5. He is now perhaps best known for his portraits of black people—his West Indian servant Henry Thomas was a favourite model.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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