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), Henry Moore Playing Table-Tennis, 1966


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Inscribed Henry-Forte de Marmi ‘66/score:21-5,21-8,21-7
Pencil and wash
19 ¼ x 15 in (50 x 39 cm)

Collections: Andrew Burt

Moore and Ayrton were life-long friends who pursued an on-going rivalry at Table-Tennis; a competition which according to Ayrton’s biographer Justine Hopkins ‘’Moore usually won’’ (Hopkins Michael Ayrton 1994 p.331). Moore had a house in Forte de Marmi and in 1966 the two artists were collaborating on a commission from Thames and Hudson for a book on the sculpture of Giovanni Pisano. This drawing may have arisen from Ayrton’s project at this time to make an exhibition of portraits of his heroes. The show which featured pictures of other artists such as Minton and Sutherland was at the Reading Museum and Art Gallery in 1967.

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