MURRAY, Charles Fairfax

1849 - 1919

Fairfax Murray

Born at Bow in London in September 1849, son of James Murray, an accounts clerk, and his wife Elizabeth. In 1851, 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 M. 9, Arthur 7 and John D. 5, all born at Bow. He died at Brentford, Middlesex in 1919. He grew up in Sudbury, Suffolk where he studied drawing, possibly under Thomas Gainsborough's great nephew Gainsborough Dupont [q.v.]. 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) home at Somerleyton to draw portraits of his family. At the age of 16 was sponsored by John Ruskin (1819-1900) and installed as Edward Burne-Jones's (1833-1898) first studio assistant in 1867 and quickly became one of the circle of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) working to Burne-Jones's designs also illuminating Morris's manuscripts. In 1872 he went to Italy where he worked as a copyist for Ruskin in Rome, Siena, Pisa and Venice, allowing him to advance his study of the Italian masters. He married 16-year-old Angelica Collivichi and settled in Florence but in 1882, leaving his wife in Italy, he returned to England. From 1888, he became intimate with Blanche Richmond, who had been sitting for him, and with whom he went on to father children. A well respected connoisseur and advisor to private collectors 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'. He died in London on 25 January 1919.

Works by This Artist