Artur Barbosa was born in Liverpool, the son of the Portuguese vice-consul and a half-French mother. He studied at Liverpool School of Art and the Central School of Art in London. Whilst still a student he produced illustrations for Everybody’s Weekly and The Radio Times. He also designed for the stage and produced drawings for fashion magazines and leading advertising agencies. Barbosa was at school with the actor Rex Harrison, the friendship endured into adulthood when Harrison commissioned Barbosa to design the interiors of his villa in Portofino, this in turn led to a commission to refurbish Elizabeth Taylor’s yacht, the Kalizma; Cecil Beaton and Laurence Olivier were also among his friends.
His prolific book illustration was the most constant and popular element throughout his long career and he was commissioned by authors such as C.S Forester, George MacDonald Fraser, Patrick O'Brian and Georgette Heyer. His stylised designs are immediately recognisable and have become a characteristic perception of the (extended!) Regency period (Hornblower and Flashman technically fall either side of the years 1810-20!)