Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art


Michael Ayrton
height (including bronze base): 73cm.; 28¾in.
Conceived in 1963, the present work is from the edition of 6.
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Grosvenor Gallery, London, where acquired by Dr Lewson in 1964
Acquired from the Estate of the above by the present owners, 1995


London, Grosvenor Gallery, Michael Ayrton, Bronzes, Paintings, Collages and Drawings 1962-1964, 29th April - 30th May 1964, cat. no.5 (another cast);
New York, James Goodman Gallery, Michael Ayrton, 15th May - 5th June 1965, cat. 27 (another cast);
Toronto, Mazelow Gallery, Michael Ayrton, 18th May - 4th June 1965, cat. no.22 (another cast);
Kings Lynn, Seventeenth King's Lynn Festival, Michael Ayrton, 1967, cat. no.7 (another cast);
Chicago, Sears Vincent Price Gallery, Michael Ayrton, October - November 1967, cat. no.33 (another cast);
Colchester, University of Essex, Michael Ayrton, 10th - 23rd March 1968, cat. no.7 (another cast);
London, Hamet Gallery, Michael Ayrton: Sculpture 1956-58, 4th - 29th March 1969, cat. no.11 (another cast);
Reading, Reading Museum Art Gallery, Michael Ayrton, 14th June - 15th July 1969, cat. no.27 (another cast);
Bruton, Bruton Gallery, Michael Ayrton, 9th October - 6th November 1971, cat. no.9 (another cast);
London, National Book League, Word and Image I & II, December 1971, cat. no.81 (another cast);
Chicago, R.S. Johnston International Gallery, Michael Ayrton: The Maze: Bronzes, Drawings, Etchings 1962-1972, November 1972, cat. no.8 (another cast);
Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Art Gallery, Michael Ayrton: Maze and Minotaur, 3rd February - 3rd March 1973, cat. no.5 (another cast), with tour to Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton; Holburne Museum, Bath; Exeter City Art Gallery, Exeter and Rye Art Gallery, Rye;
Philadelphia, The Museum of Art Pennsylvania State University, Michael Ayrton, 6th May - 17th June 1973, cat. no.1 (another cast);
London, Agnew & Sons, Michael Ayrton: Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture 1949 - 1969, 1984, cat. no.27 (another cast);
London, Austin/Desmond Fine Art, Michael Ayrton: Retrospective 1939-1975, December 1990 - January 1991, cat. no.45 (another cast).


Michael Ayrton and C.P. Snow, Drawings and Sculpture by Michael Ayrton, Cory, Adams and McKay, London, 1966, illustrated pl.150 (another cast);
Peter Cannon-Brookes, Michael Ayrton: An Illustrated Commentary, City Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham, 1978, p.91;
Justine Hopkins, Michael Ayrton: A Biography, Andre Deutsch, London, 1994, p.293;
Jacob E. Nyenhuis, Myth and the Creative Process: Michael Ayrton and the Myth of Daedalus, the Maze Maker, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2003, cat. no.352, illustrated p.253 (another cast).

Catalogue Note

Initially a painter and draughtsmen, Ayrton first turned to sculpture in 1953. Ayrton saw sculpture as the fulfilment of his drawing, and inspired by his travels to Italy in the mid-1940s, the southern classicism was a catalyst for his imagery becoming less linear and more sculptural. Sculpture was a medium in which he had no formal training, bar some valuable advice given generously and frequently by Henry Moore and a passionate study of the work of such masters as Donatello, Rodin and Degas.  

By the early 1960s, Ayrton was producing sculpture rooted in Greek mythology and these have become some of his most distinct works. Their origins lie in Ayrton's first visit to Cumae in 1956, the earliest Greek colony in Italy. Steeped in Greek mythology, the experience of this ancient site had a profound impact on Ayrton, inspiring pieces which explored the myths of Daedalus and Icarus, the Oracle and the Minotaur, from which the present work is based.  In the Greek myth, the Minotaur is a monstrous creation, with the head and tail of a bull and body of a man. A calamitous amalgamation of man and beast, the creature dwelt in the Labyrinth, an elaborate maze designed by Daedalus. Ayrton would go on to write The Maze Maker (1967) a fictional memoir surrounding Daedalus, and also was commissioned to create a colossal labyrinth, comprising 1680 feet of passageways in upstate New York (1969).

Modern & Post-War British Art