Glyn Philpot was born in London in 1884, and at the age of fifteen began his studies at the Lambeth School of Art under Philip Conrad and was influenced by Charles Ricketts, an earlier student at Lambeth. In 1903 he embarked upon his first visit to France, where he studied at the Académie Julian from 1904. In 1909, he was elected member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and he became an honorary member in 1925. In 1911, he was a founder-member of the National Portrait Society and in 1913, of the International Society of Painters and Sculptors and in 1925, of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. His painting The Marble Worker (1911), won him the Gold Medal at the Annual International Exhibition held by the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1913. In 1915, he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and in 1923 he became a Royal Academician, and also exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1930. He died in 1937.
Philpot's travels throughout France, Italy and Spain provided a diverse range of influences and inspirations that are reflected in the eclectic nature of his practice. His early huge mythological and religious compositions evoke both an academic style and the romanticism of the pre-Raphelites - in fact he produced decorative borders and initials for Rossetti's translation of The Pitiful Song of Dante (1900-01) whilst the influence of Velasquez is visible in his portraiture, through which he primarily established his reputation particularly after World War I. In 1927, he painted a huge mural for St. Stephen's Hall, Westerminster in 1927 of Richard I leaving England for Crusade. Towards the end of his career, he was influenced by Picasso and turned to a more symbolist style, a dramatic enough shift to warrant national newspaper headlines. Philpot's personal life, he lived for over a decade with a soldier he met during the war, and his interest in depicting black models, ensured a certain notoriety and exclusion from the establishment during his lifetime.