Glyn Warren Philpot

Repose on the Flight into Egypt

1922

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 749 x 1161 x 25 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 2004
Reference
T11861

Display caption

Philpot brings an unusual interpretation to the subject of the Holy Family resting on the flight into Egypt by incorporating mythological figures including three centaurs, a sphinx and a satyr. The Holy Family are oblivious to the pagan creatures that surround them and the painting is infused with a dream-like atmosphere. The satyr, posturing nude and phallic cactus plant in the foreground also allude to pagan myths of unrestrained sexuality, but the implication is that this will be replaced by the new religion of Christianity. This may represent an attempt by Philpot to reconcile his adopted Catholicism and his homosexuality.

Gallery label, October 2013