MURRAY, Charles Fairfax

1849 - 1919

Fairfax Murray

Charles Fairfax Murray was born at Bow in London on 30 September 1849, son of James Dalton Murray (1808-1876), an accounts clerk, and his wife Elizabeth née Childs (1816-1853). In 1851, Charles was a 1-year-old, living at Castle Street, St Giles Cripplegate, London with his parents, 42-year-old James and 35-year-old Elizabeth, and three siblings Lucy Maria 9, Arthur 7 and John Dalton 5, all born at Bow. Murray grew up in Sudbury, Suffolk where he studied drawing under Thomas Gainsborough's great nephew Gainsborough Dupont. At the age of 12, he was employed in the drawing office of the railway entrepreneurs Peto & Betts and was taken into Sir Samuel Morton Peto's (1809-1889) Suffolk home at Somerleyton Hall, to draw portraits of Peto's family. At the age of 17, sponsored by John Ruskin (1819-1900), in 1867 installed as Edward Burne-Jones's (1833-1898) first studio assistant and quickly became one of the circle of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), working to Burne-Jones's designs also illuminating Morris's manuscripts. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1867 but it was at the Grosvenor Gallery from 1879 that he became more noted by the public as an artist. In 1872 Murray went to Italy where he worked as a copyist for Ruskin in Rome, Siena, Pisa and in Venice, allowing him to advance his study of the Italian masters. In 1875 he married in Italy, 16-year-old Angelica Collivichi and settled in Florence and they had six children but in 1882, leaving his wife in Italy, he returned to England. From 1888, he became associated with his model Blanche Richmond, with whom he went on to father further children. A well-respected connoisseur and advisor to private collectors of works of art including books also collecting a considerable number of old master paintings, including Rembrandt's 'Portrait of his Brother', Botticelli's 'Infant Jesus with the Virgin and St John' and van Dyck's 'Lucas Vosterman'. Part of his art collection, some 26 works, was sold at Georges Petit Galleries in Paris on 15 June 1914 when Rembrandt's portrait of his brother realised 12,600. Charles Fairfax Murray had homes in Paris, Florence and in London and, after a period of ill health, died at 77 Barrowgate Road, Chiswick, Middlesex on 25 January 1919.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from 22 Charles Street, Fulham Road, London
1867 988 The Children in the Wood

Works by This Artist