Artist: Michael Ayrton
Lived: 1921 – 1975
Catalogue number: 2611
Image Height/Width: 433 x 652mm
Purchase assisted by the Henry Moore Foundation
Michael Ayrton studied painting in Vienna and Paris, working briefly under Pavel Tchelitchew, and attended Heatherley’s Art School and various other art schools in London.He travelled to Spain, saw some of the siege of Barcelona during the Spanish civil war, and spent the summer of 1939 with fellow painters and friends F John Minton and Michael Middleton at Les Baux in France. After the outbreak of war, Ayrton returned to London, had his first exhibition at the Zwemmer Gallery, and with John Minton, during leave from the RAF, executed the designs for (Sir) John Gielgud’s Macbeth, staged in 1942. Ayrton was invalided out of the RAF in 1942 and shared an exhibition with Minton at the Leicester Galleries. From that time his life was marred by ill health, and his art never brought the honours, the critical acclaim, or the financial success enjoyed by many of his contemporaries.
He made many visits to Greece and as well as his obsession with Greek mythology and mazes, as noted above, he also captured subjects in the landscapes from his travels. This lithograph is a gentle depiction of two figures tending to their goats in a hot country. He did several similar lithographs in the early 1950s, inspired by people and goats, with one executed in Andalucia,Spain. This particular lithograph could also have been inspired by his travels in that part of the world.