Completed British 20th C, except portraits, East of England and The Midlands: Artists and Subjects, Military History 27 Is ‘The Battle of Centaurs and Lapiths at Hippodamia's Wedding’ a painting by Glyn Philpot?

Topic: Artist

I have been wondering for a while whether this may be the work of Glyn Warren Philpot.

Clearly, it isn’t in the style of painting that he is generally more well known for, but I think it has been painted in a style that he had been gradually developing in private, from at least the early 1920’s.
During this time, Glyn Philpot continued to paint commissions in his more usual and expected commercial style.

Many of the supporting documents may not look exactly the same as this painting, but I think that they feel the same, share a similar trajectory of development, and show similar examples of decisions made by the artist. I have also attached some examples of sone studies from the sketchbooks of Glyn Philpot, that are in the collection of the Samuel Courtauld Trust.

I think they may share ways of processing light and shadows, and a similar way of using and manipulating positive and negative forms, especially when depicting the male figure.

I also feel that the painting contains recurring elements or themes, the same approach to organic forms, hands (gnarled or flat), abrupt faces, bodies, the way he marks up his work for the design process, the same touch of the brush and flow of the paint.

Until very recently, this painting was recorded as ‘Mythological Study’.

If this is not the work of Glyn Warren Philpot, then it would be good to see if we could work out who really did create this work of art. [Group leader: Kenneth McConkey]

S. Elin Jones, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. ‘Unknown artist’ has been updated to ‘circle of Glyn Philpot’.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


The Collection have commented: ‘We’ve had a chance to check the painting itself, and can confirm that there are no marks, inscriptions or labels on the back and that it is not signed. We’d be happy for you to open up a public discussion on the painting and to read views on it.’

I have asked the Collection if they have any information about when and how it was acquired, or when first recorded as being in their Collection and will report back.

Kieran Owens,

Could a hi-res of the attached area be posted? It appears that there is some inscription or lettering there.

1 attachment
Jacob Simon,

I'd like to believe that the collection would have reported an inscription.

Kieran Owens,

Does the Art UK images shows the whole of the painting?

One of the measurements reads 8' 4" and the one below is possibly is 27' 7". Given that the Art UK image measures 61.6 x 61.2 cm, could this be a sketch for a more massive painting, or perhaps a mural?

The 1984 National Portrait Gallery catalogue for "Glyn Philpot, 1884-1937: Edwardian Aesthete to Thirties Modernist" contained the following lines: "The squared-up colour modello for Philpot's mural for St Stephen's Hall , Westminster (see nos . 93 and 150 ). The brightness and freshness of the colours perhaps give a better indication of Philpot's original than the large ..."

There are other references to Philpot and murals elsewhere.

Kieran Owens,

"Does the Art UK image show......" (it has been a tiring week!)

Kieran Owens,

If not by Glyn Philpot, could this modello be by his young friend Vivian Forbes, who was introduced to the art world by Philpot and who also worked on murals, including one in the House of Lords? Several references state that Forbes' style was similar to that of Philpot's.

I would have thought Liss Llewellyn might be the people to ask here, or Alan Powers, who wrote a book on British Art murals from 1920 to 1970. Alas I don't have the book to help. I might be able to establish contact with Liss Llewellyn Monday.

David, I have a copy of the book British Murals & Decorative Painting 1920-1960 published in 2013. I also have Glyn Philpot: His Life and Art by J.G.P.Delaney, published in 1999. The author had the valuable assistance of Philpot's nieces and he includes a comprehensive list of Philpot's work, not just the work illustrated in that book. I'll look at both of these books in more detail.

Kieran Owens,

In the London Magazine (Volume 24, 1984) an interesting snippet appears (Google reveals not more) that reads: "....between Philpot's early and late manner. There is pleasure to be found in work done under the signs of Ricketts and Shannon, not least mythological subjects which so delighted Ricketts. 'Melampus and the Centaur' (1919) was...."

According to the link below, Charles Ricketts (1866 - 1931), Charles Haslewood Shannon (1863 - 1937), Glyn Philpot (1884 - 1937) and Vivian Forbes (1891 - 1937) were all associated with the Lansdowne House artists' studios on Lansdowne Road in Holland Park, London. Philpot and Forbes shared a home and studio there from 1923 to 1935.

From a different snippet of the above-referenced "Glyn Philpot, 1884-1937: Edwardian Aesthete to Thirties Modernist", the following might be of relevance and potentially ties Philpot and Forbes, though familiar exposure to the therein-mentioned painting, to this work's Art UK title:

"It was not only Ricketts's work which was influential on Philpot , but also his scholarship and enthusiasms . The well-known Piero di Cosimo picture, The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs , which he and Shannon bequeathed to (the National Gallery) ..."

This suggests that the theme was certainly familiar to the four artists just mentioned.

Kieran Owens,

Does the collection have accession details for the work?

Martin Hopkinson,

Could this date close to Ithell Colqhoun's 1930 Judgement of Paris [Brighton]?

Birmingham City University,

I've checked our catalogue records for this painting. It was catalogued on 27/6/2003, but I could find no details about when it came into the collection. Systematic cataloguing of our collection only began in 2002, when many items were simply found in store. It's listed as c.1930.

Tim Williams,

(Posted on behalf of Simon Martin)

"I am currently writing a monograph on Glyn Philpot to coincide with the forthcoming exhibition at Pallant House Gallery. Philpot painted mythological themes throughout his life, indeed centaurs feature in his 'Melampus and the Centaur' (1919) and 'The Repose on the Flight into Egypt' (1922), however, a work of this title does not appear in any of the artist's records, whether in letters, photographs, or Daisy Philpot's listing of subject paintings in the Tate Archive. Although Philpot would have known the Piero di Cosimo painting of the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs owned by his friends Ricketts and Shannon, this does not look (to me) like Philpot's handling of paint or treatment of composition. He did teach at the Royal Academy Schools in the 1920s and so it is conceivable that it is by one of his students.
Simon Martin, Director, Pallant House Gallery"

Marcie Doran,

In the introduction, we were told that this work used to be known as ‘Mythological Study’. I think the old title shows that this work is related to Philpot’s 1933 work ‘Mythological Scene’, which was in a 2005 Sotheby’s auction.

It seems to me that the woman in white and the man behind her in ‘Mythological Scene’ are very similar to the woman and the centaur in the foreground of the Birmingham work. The headless creature in the background of this work is much like the man in the top right corner of ‘Mythological Scene’. There is also a similar baby in both works. Finally, the woman in the red dress in this work is much like the woman in the light blue dress in ‘Mythological Scene’.

Kieran Owens,

It would be useful if all thirteen of Philpot's mythological studies at the Courtauld could be seen.

Also, I wonder if one of Philpot's students would have been marking up this work for a large mural, if that is what the measurements on the margins imply that they are there for.

I have checked the various books and catalogues I have on Glyn Philpot and I cannot find reference to the Battle of the Lapiths and Centaurs. In particular the book by J.G.P.Delaney titled 'Glyn Philpot: His Life and Art' published in 1999, makes it clear the author had considerable assistance from GP's nieces, Rosemary Newgas and Gabrielle Cross 'who opened up all her Philpot material to me'. The author published a comprehensive list of GP works, including Decorations and there is no reference to 'our' work.

I also think the comments of Simon Martin via Tim Williams on 7th February carry considerable weight.

S. Elin Jones,

I think that it might be worth mentioning for research purposes, that until very recently, the title of the painting was known as ‘Mythological Study’.

Thank you S. Elin Jones. I have checked the Delaney book and I could not find it in the list of works under 'Mythological Study'. On re-checking the NPG catalogue of 1984/85 I couldn't find it there either. I think you are right in seeing the influence of Philpot in this work and as Simon Martin has suggested, it could possibly be by one of his students. It strikes me as being a 'Circle of Glyn Philpot' painting but without a clear provenance I think it would be difficult to catalogue it fully.