Wilson Online Reference
Fairfax Murray
Charles Fairfax Murray, 1849-1919
Connection to Wilson
Biographical Details
Charles Fairfax Murray was born in Bow, London, but grew up in Sudbury, Suffolk. By 1862 he was working in an engineering drawing office, but, having been discovered by Ruskin he entered Edward Burne-Jones's studio in 1867 as his first studio assistant. The same year he exhibited a painting, Children in the Woods at the Royal Academy. He rapidly became one of the circle of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the friend of William Morris and Philip Webb and began to work for the Firm, Morris Marshall, Faulkner & Co. His tasks included transferring designs to stained glass (including the windows of the Castle Howard chapel) and doing miniature illustrations for Morris's poems. Murray was very active as a collector, art dealer, connoisseur and buyer for public museums and private collectors. His own collections contained Italian and English art, including the following Wilson drawings:

D162 Portrait of Thomas Jenkins The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
D214 Roman Campagna with Peasants Dancing The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
D332 A Statue in an Amphitheatre, Tate, London
D338 A Skirmish in Rowing-Boats in the Bay of Baiae, an Island Beyond, Private Collection

In 1872, Murray left England for Italy, where he worked as a copyist for Ruskin in Rome, Siena, Pisa and Venice. Returning ten years later, he was by then well respected as a connoisseur and adviser to private collectors. He also had a considerable and growing number of Old Master paintings of his own, by Botticelli, Rembrandt van Dyck and others. Murray also owned numerous Pre-Raphaelite works, rare and illuminated books, incunabula and a complete series of editions from the Kelmscott Press. In 1904 he sold his collection of more than 800 Pre-Raphaelite drawings to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. He gave his Titian Tarquin and Lucretia, more than a dozen Constables, four early Gainsboroughs and a Corot to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and his collection of 46 English portraits to Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Significant institutions
Royal Academy; Castle Howard; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Dulwich Picture Gallery