Glyn Warren Philpot (1884-1937)
Philpot’s style of painting at this date was unpredictable and experimental, painting highly-pitched portraits as well as monochrome studies such as this...
Glyn Philpot was a highly accomplished painter and sculptor best known for his evocative portraits and figurative paintings.
Philpot exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy when he was just nineteen, having previously studied at Lambeth Art School under Philip Connard. Unlike many of his peers who were looking to the contemporary artists working on the Continent at this date, Philpot found his inspiration in the old masters, an influence which remained strong throughout his career.
In 1909, following a trip to Spain, Philpot painted Manuelito, the Circus Boy – a remarkably dynamic portrait of a young man wearing a red silk jacket with black breeches and white socks. It was an incredibly stylish performance in paint, and highly reminiscent of the virtuoso strokes of Velázquez, whose work Philpot probably encountered whilst in Spain. Manuelito was exhibited to great acclaim and portrait commissions flooded in. Like many of his contemporaries, portrait commissioned were welcomed by Philpot, although his yearned for something greater. This ambition is reflected in the highly original poses he bestowed on his subjects, successfully managing to distinguished his figurative work from that of his more complacent peers.
In 1923/4 when this work was painted, Philpot’s style was unpredictable and experimental, painting highly-pitched portraits as well as monochrome studies such as this. Around this date Philpot was travelling to Italy, and it seems likely that this composition was inspired by the classical frescoes studied whilst abroad.