The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Search the Collection

Michael Ayrton

(1921-1975), Artist

Sitter in 8 portraits
Artist of 10 portraits
Artist, writer, film-maker and broadcaster. Born in London, Ayrton lived in Vienna and Paris from 1936-9. He trained with de Chirico and Tchelitchew and shared a studio with John Minton, with whom he first exhibited in 1942 and, on leave from the RAF, designed scenery and costumes for Gielgud's production of Macbeth (1942). In 1943 he became the youngest member of the BBC Brains Trust. From 1944, he was art critic of the Spectator, and worked with Constant Lambert on Purcell's's Fairy Queen at the Royal Opera House (1946). Encouraged by Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore, Ayrton turned to sculpture, drawing themes from classical mythology. His novel The Maze Maker (1967) won the Heinemann Award for Literature.

Tell us More

3 Likes voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Make a donation Close

List Thumbnail

Dylan Thomas, by Michael Ayrton - NPG 4089

Dylan Thomas

by Michael Ayrton
charcoal, 1947
NPG 4089

Michael Ayrton, by Michael Ayrton - NPG 5537

Michael Ayrton

by Michael Ayrton
pen and ink and wash, 1947
NPG 5537

Norman Douglas, by Michael Ayrton - NPG 4146

Norman Douglas

by Michael Ayrton
ink and wash, 1948
NPG 4146

Sir William Turner Walton, by Michael Ayrton - NPG 5138

Sir William Turner Walton

by Michael Ayrton
oil on canvas, 1948
NPG 5138

Michael Ayrton, by Michael Ayrton - NPG 6666

Michael Ayrton

by Michael Ayrton
oil and ripolin on board, 1957-1958
NPG 6666


Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this person? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license an image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.

Get Creative

Enter our Jubilee family competition

Submit your family’s recreation of a Royal portrait to win some Jubilee goodies

Enter now

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique