Discover the work of Glyn Philpot, the sought-after society portraitist who shook off convention to embrace modernism.
The first major exhibition of British artist Glyn Philpot R.A. (1884-1937) in almost 40 years. Bringing together over 80 paintings, drawings and sculptures, many unseen in public for decades, the exhibition charts the artist’s development from Edwardian society portraits to his shift to a radically modernist style in the 1930s.
The exhibition will include his portraits of actors, dancers, poets, society hostesses, male lovers and friends, examining his important contribution to the sensitive representation of Black sitters from the 1910s to 1930s, and his exploration of both queer and religious subjects.
Philpot’s sitters included a Who’s Who of British society, from glamorous duchesses a such as Loelia, Duchess of Westminster, to actors, poets and writers including Siegfried Sassoon. Alongside these portraits, Philpot gained a reputation for his paintings, sculptures and drawings of unknown Black sitters. Central to the exhibition will be an exploration of how these relate to wider dialogues about identity and representation in modern art.
★★★★★ “Decades of devotion are writ large in this exhibition, which allows us to rediscover Philpot in all his magpie complexity, and to afford his treatment of homoerotic subjects the honest appreciation they could not have received in his lifetime”.
Hettie Judah, The Guardian
★★★★☆ “Philpot, at his best, presents a behind-the-scenes glimpse of his period. This show sets out to re-establish a reputation that more than deserves to be reclaimed.”
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times
★★★★☆ “It’s that fundamental sense of mystery that gives this intriguing exhibition its particular piquant flavour.”
Mark Hudson, Independent
Highlights from the exhibition
Order the exhibition book
Drawing on new research and recently rediscovered paintings and archive material, the first color monograph on Glyn Philpot looks at his career from early works comprising more traditional formal portraiture through to modernism in the 1920s and 30s.
It also considers Philpot’s work in the light of recent queer theory and writing on race, discussing Philpot’s impact on queer writers and artists, including more recent works by Isaac Julien—in particular his film ‘Looking for Langston’—and writers such as Booker Prize winner Alan Hollinghurst, who provides an introduction to this volume.
Lost portrait of Black actor and rights campaigner Paul Robeson to go on show
After extensive research online and in archives, our Director, Simon Martin, worked out that Philpot’s 1930 portrait, ‘Head of a Negro’, actually represented Paul Robeson as Othello.
“It was an exciting discovery. I had a hunch this painting was Robeson, but I had to match it with press photographs of him playing Othello, and then trace the work…Othello was the defining role of Robeson’s career – a seminal performance in theatre history. Philpot obviously recognised that it needed to be recorded.” Simon Martin.