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Michael Ayrton (1921 - 1975)

About Michael Ayrton

Michael Ayrton (20 February 1921 – 16 November 1975) was a British artist and writer, renowned as a painter, printmaker, sculptor and designer, and also as a critic, broadcaster and novelist. His varied output of sculptures, illustrations, poems and stories reveals an obsession with flight, myths, mirrors and mazes.

Ayrton was born Michael Ayrton Gould, son of the writer Gerald Gould and the Labour politician Barbara Ayrton, and took his mother’s maiden name professionally. His maternal grandmother was the electrical engineer and inventor, Hertha Marks Ayrton. In his teens during the 1930s he studied art at Heatherley School of Fine Art and St John’s Wood Art School, then in Paris under Eugène Berman, where he shared a studio with John Minton. He travelled to Spain and attempted to enlist on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, but was rejected for being under-age.

Ayrton was also a stage and costume designer, working with John Minton on the 1942 John Gielgud production of Macbeth at the age of nineteen, and a book designer and illustrator for Wyndham Lewis’s The Human Age trilogy. An exhibition, ‘Word and Image’ (National Book League 1971), explored Lewis’s and Ayrton’s literary and artistic connections.

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

His work is in several important collections including the Tate Gallery, London, National Portrait Gallery, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fry Art Gallery, Essex. Ayrton’s work was also featured at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, in an exhibition running from September to October 1955.

Text edited from Michael Ayrton’s Wikipedia page.

About this set of etchings

A series of 15 etchings illustrating Femme and Hombres, the second and third in the French poet Paul Verlaine’s nineteenth century erotic trilogy of poetry. This series of illustrations was created to accompany an edition of Femme/Hombres for The Arcadia Press in 1972, and was published by Douglas Cleverdon.

The series we have below are unsigned but numbered artist proofs. They are number six of fifteen proof etchings from the overall addition of 132. They are printed on high quality white paper.

Plate size: 25 x 20 cm


Please note: some of the images below illustrate explicit sexual encounters. Avert your eyes if you are likely to be offended.