Mask of a Dead Faun
England (London), c.1923
On display in room 21
Glyn Philpot (1884 – 1937) made his name as a painter of society portraits (including that of Siegfried Sassoon), but in the 1920s he became interested in sculpture and the male nude.
This dramatic change of direction was largely due to tensions between his public life of Christian observance and academic painting, and his private homosexuality and desire for artistic experiment.
Mask of a Dead Faun shows the model George Bridgeman, an ‘affable drifter’, whose good looks and physique represented an ideal for Philpot.
From 1919 onwards Bridgeman modelled repeatedly for Philpot who depicted him in a number of striking figurative paintings.
This cast was made around the same time that Philpot was elected a full member of the Royal Academy of Arts. It was the only of his sculptural works that sold well during his lifetime.
In the 1930s Philpot went on to adopt a more experimental modernist style and some of his later works were censured for depicting overt sexuality.