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), Dies Irae, 1947


20 x 26½ in (51 x 68 cm)
Signed and dated
Bears old label (on reverse)
‘Dies Irae’ (The Day of Wrath) is best known as a hymn and poem which accompanies memorial services. There are settings by Mozart, Verdi and by one of Ayrton’s heroes, Hector Berlioz.
The picture represents Ayrton’s painting at its most impassioned and dramatic. The picture’s suitably apocalyptic landscape features a prominent flock of seagulls, the pattern of their wings echoing the striations of the ground beneath.

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