Born in London, Glyn Philpot was the youngest of four children of John
Philpot, a chartered surveyor, and Jessie Carpenter Philpot. His mother
died when he was seven and his father married his first wife's half-sister,
Julia. Glyn Philpot was often ill when a boy and missed a lot of schooling.
At the age of fifteen he went to the Lambeth School of Art. At the age
of 19 in 1904 he had his painting, The Elevation of the Host, accepted
for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. At the same age he held his
first one-man show. In 1911 Glyn Philpot met the artists Charles Ricketts
and Charles Shannon. Through them he met Robert Ross who was to be helpful
in obtaining commissions.
In 1913, while serving in the First World War Glyn Philpot met Vivian
Forbes (1891-1937) who clung to him for the rest of his life. In 1917
Robert Ross introduced Glyn Philpot to Siegfried Sassoon who was convalescing
after being wounded and in France, and Glyn Philpot painted his portrait.
He also painted portraits of Oswald Mosley and Stanley Baldwin. He was
commissioned to paint the portrait of the King of Egypt (1923-1924).
However, he exhibited most flare when painting portraits of black men
which he did throughout his life. One of the best-known black models
was Henry Thomas who was also Glyn Philpot's manservant for several
Glyn Philpot was generous and gave advice, money, and support to a number
of young artists including Wilfred Owen's brother Harold to whom he
had been introduced by Siegfried Sassoon. In 1923, at the age of 38,
Glyn Philpot was elected a Royal Academician. Throughout the 1920s he
travelled and worked in the US, Europe, and North Africa and undertook
religious and history painting. His themes increasingly included male
In 1930 he sat on the Award Jury of the Carnegie International Exhibition
and met Henri Matisse who was a co-juror. A gold medal was awarded to
Picasso. Glyn Philpot subsequently, when in his late forties, changed
his approach to painting and lightened his palette and simplified and
stylised his compositions. In 1931 he took a studio in Paris. He met
a young German, Karl Heinz Müller, and went with him to Berlin.
This period produced a number of paintings in his new style. This change
in style meant that his work became much less popular, and his portraiture
dried up. His painting The Great Pan was rejected by the Royal Academy
in 1933. However, he slowly won back favour and he had four one-man
shows during the last five years of his life. He died suddenly at the
age of 53 of a heart attack, in London. The day after Glyn Philpot's
funeral Vivian Forbes took a fatal dose of sleeping tablets. In 1985,
the National Portrait Gallery staged a major retrospective. His works
are held by the Tate Gallery, London, amongst other major institutions.
portrait of Gertrude Hilda Philpot
pencil on paper, laid down to board, staining, loss to lower corner and top edge
signed with initials, dated 1901
inscribed to the reverse 'Gertrude Hilda Philpot drawn by Glyn Philpot at the age of 16 1/2years.'
21 x 21 cm
Provenance: Fine Art Society, London