Michael Ayrton (1921-1975)

Ayrton was an English artist and writer who worked as a painter, printmaker, sculptor and designer, and also as a critic and broadcaster.

He was also a stage and costume designer, working with John Minton on the 1942 John Gielgud production of Macbeth at just 19 years old. He designed and illustrated Wyndham Lewis’ The Human Age trilogy. He also collaborated on projects with Constant Lambert and William Golding.

In 1977 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery held a major retrospective of his work which subsequently went on tour.

Michael Ayrton (1921-1975), Greek Landscape, 1961


18 x 26 cm
Signed and dated Dec.‘61

Ayrton was very ill in the spring and summer of 1961 and for the rest of the year worked on small studies in oil, based on his beloved Greek landscape. In the opinion of Justin Hopkins, in the process “his painting loosened, becoming texturally more interesting and showing a greater sensitivity to the atmospheric nuances of colour than he had ever achieved before”. (Justin Hopkins, Michael Ayrton, 1994, p.272).

Magda Paton-Freeman, who originally acquired this work, was a friend of Ayrton’s from the 1940’s. She worked for the BBC, replying to Lord Haw Haw’s infamous broadcasts, earning her a place on Goebbels’ death list.

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