Letters from Charles Fairfax Murray to Frederic William Burton
Archive reference number
The file consists of 14 handwritten letters from Charles Fairfax Murray to Burton. Some of the letters contain sketches made by him of paintings he refers to in his letters. The letters contain mostly information relating to business matters but some have reference to personal and family matters as well.
Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919) was man of widely acknowledged importance in the late 19th century art world and his activities during his lifetime spanned from artist, collector, dealer and bibliophile.
He was born in Bow, then a country village on the eastern fringes of London on 30 September 1849. He died in 1919.
Charles Fairfax Murray was a substantial painter and portraitist in his own right. He worked as a copyist for John Ruskin, as the studio assistant to Edward Burne-Jones, and he assisted William Morris with the painting of glass and illuminating manuscripts and copying for Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Fairfax Murrary was also a highly successful dealer and a passionate collector of art. He brought a number of important works into national collections and also played an important part in developing the great American collections. His connoisseurship was highly regarded by many including Sir Frederick Burton, Director of the National Gallery from 1874-1894 to whom he worked as a buying agent. He was Burne-Jones's and William Morris's candidate to succeed Burton in 1894 as Director of the National Gallery.
Towards the later part of his life Fairfax Murray painted less and turned towards collecting early printed books and illuminated manuscripts. Charles Fairfax Murray was an intensely private person. He had two large families, one in Florence and one in London, but lived with neither.
The original source of acquisition for this material is unclear although it can be presumed that they are in the custody of the National Gallery because the recipient, Burton, would have received these letters whilst in post as a director of the National Gallery. The letters were originally kept in the library in Box A VI 4 2.
Other references to Charles Fairfax Murray can be found in the following files in the National Gallery's Archive: NG1 Minutes of the Board of Trustees NG7 Letters read at Board Meetings The John Rylands Library at Manchester University holds many letters and papers of Fairfax Murray There is also a substantial amount of material to be found at the British Library.
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