A Bittersweet Loving Cup

A silver bowl or ‘Loving Cup’ has recently been presented to Brighton & Hove Museums through the Art Fund.

Silver loving cup belonging to Glyn Philpot and Vivian Forbes
Silver loving cup belonging to Glyn Philpot and Vivian Forbes

It is modelled in the Arts & Crafts style, and was hallmarked for Edward Jones of Birmingham in 1912. The first names of the artists, Glyn Philpot and Vivian Forbes are engraved around the bowl, one letter on each projecting lobe. It belonged latterly to Robin Gibson, Chief Curator of the National Portrait Gallery from 1994-2001. Gibson wrote a biography of Philpot in 1984 and mounted an exhibition of his work at the National Portrait Gallery in 1986.

Glyn Philpot, The Journey of the Spirit, 1921
Glyn Philpot, The Journey of the Spirit, 1921

Although the Tate Gallery hosted a retrospective of Philpot’s work in 1938, Brighton Museum held the first post-war exhibition of Philpot’s paintings in 1953. Brighton & Hove also owns a number of important examples of his paintings and sculpture.

Glyn Philpot (1884-1937) was already a successful artist before World War One. He joined the Royal Fusiliers and in August 1915 attended a training course at Aldershot, where he met Vivian Forbes (1891-1937), a fellow soldier and an aspiring painter. Philpot’s sister Daisy recalled ‘a young man of twenty-three with piercing blue eyes who attached himself to Glyn.’[1] Philpot saw in Forbes someone he could nurture and the two men became close. They both achieved promotion to officer level before being independently invalided out of the army in 1917.

Blue plaque at Lansdowne House
Blue plaque at Lansdowne House

From 1923-1935, Philpot and Forbes intermittently shared a home and studio at Lansdowne House, Lansdowne Road, London, W11. Their period of tenancy is marked by a Blue Plaque. Although he was talented, charming and devoted to Philpot, Forbes demonstrated increasing emotional instability. He became insanely jealous of Philpot’s other friends and liaisons. Philpot never disowned him but encouraged him to travel independently for long periods and often relied upon his loyal sister, Daisy to support Forbes. The writer Gerald Heard, believed that Forbes actually brought out much that was best in Philpot, who confessed that, ‘through Vivian I can do something in art which I couldn’t do myself’.[2]

During the 1930s Philpot suffered from high blood-pressure and breathing difficulties. He passed the summer of 1937 in France where he spent time with Forbes. On 18 December he collapsed suddenly in London and died of a brain haemorrhage. Forbes returned from Paris in a highly distressed state to attend Philpot’s funeral at Westminster Cathedral on 22 December. The following day he took his own life with an overdose of sleeping pills. Despite the tragic outcome of their story, this cup remains as testimony of all that was best in the relationship between the two artists.

Stella Beddoe, Senior Keeper and Keeper of Decorative Art


[1] Daisy Philpot’s unpublished memoir quoted in JPG Delaney, Glyn Philpot, his Life and Art, 1999, p.41

[2] Gerald Heard’s Memoir of Glyn Philpot, edited by JPG Delaney, posted 2005 on www.geraldheard.com/writings.htm

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