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Murray, Charles Fairfax

British, 1849 - 1919


Charles Fairfax Murray was born in Bow, on the outskirts of London, on 30 September 1849. His father, James Dalton Murray (1808-1876), was a draper; his mother, née Elizabeth Childs (b. 1816), died when Murray was four. Murray had no formal artistic training, but had a natural ability to draw and in 1866 sent some drawings to John Ruskin in exchange for his lodging and training that year, when he became the first studio assistant to the pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones. In 1873 Ruskin sent Murray to Italy to make copies of frescoes in Siena and Rome, and from that time Murray lived mostly in Italy, settling eventually in Florence, although he maintained homes in England and France. He met his future wife, Angelica Colivicchi, in Italy; they married in 1875 and would have six children, three of whom lived to adulthood. Murray also established a relationship in England with Blanche Richmond, with whom he had additional children, perhaps as many as six. He made his living working as a copyist in Italy for Ruskin, and painting portraits, having begun to receive commissions through Burne-Jones. He also began to act as a dealer on the side, acquiring works for the National Gallery in London as well as private British and American collectors, and he was an advisor to Colnaghi's and later partner with Thomas Agnew & Sons. In 1909 he made a significant sale of his personal collection of 1,400 Old Master drawings to the American banker John Pierpont Morgan. He died in England in 1919.


Clegg, Jeanne, and Paul Tucker. Ruskin and Tuscany. Exh. cat. Accademia Italiana, London; Ruskin Gallery, Sheffield; Fondazione Ragghianti, Lucca. Sheffield, 1993: 155-156.
Elliott, David B. Charles Fairfax Murray, The Unknown Pre-Raphaelite. New Castle, Delaware, 2000

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