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Letters from Edward Poynter to Charles Fairfax Murray



Letters from Edward Poynter to Charles Fairfax Murray



Archive reference number



This collection consists of 14 letters (4 with envelopes) from Edward Poynter to Charles Fairfax Murray relating to the acquisition and loan of artworks. Letters NGA56/1-5 were written by Poynter in his capacity as Director of the National Gallery; letters NGA56/6-14 in his capacity as President of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Record type


Administrative history

Sir Edward Poynter was Director of the National Gallery and President of the Royal Academy at the turn of the last century.

Born in Paris on 20 March 1836, Poynter had attended a number of schools in England before turning towards training as an artist in 1852. In 1853 he visited Rome where he worked in the studio of Frederic, Lord Leighton and formed a close artistic relationship.

On returning to London he continued his studies and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1855 (he would later be elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1869 and a Royal Academician in 1876). Poynter moved to Paris in 1856, spending three years in the studio of the Swiss painter Charles Gleyre, where his fellow students included the cartoonist and writer George du Maurier and the American artist James McNeill Whistler.

Poynter enjoyed success both as a painter and as a designer prior to a career in more official roles. From 1871 to 1875 he was the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College London and from 1875 to 1881 he took up the position of Principal of the National Art Training School. He finally became Director of the National Gallery in May 1894, a position he held for 10 years until the end of 1904. In 1896, he was knighted, and on 24 July 1902, he was created a Baronet, of Albert Gate, in the city of Westminster, in the county of London.

Two years after his arrival at the National Gallery in 1896, Poynter was elected President of the Royal Academy and retained that post until 1918. He died the following year, on 26 July 1919, and was buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

Charles Fairfax Murray was born in Bow on 30 September 1849. He became a substantial painter in his own right and worked as a copyist for John Ruskin, 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.

He was also a successful art dealer and passionate art collector. He brought a number of important works into the national collections as well as helping develop American collections. His connoisseurship was highly regarded by many including Frederic Burton whom he worked with as a buying agent. He was the preferred candidate of Burne-Jones and William Morris to succeed Burton as Director of the National Gallery. He died in 1919.

Custodial history

Estate of Anthony Hobson (1921-2014); purchased from James Fergusson Books & Manuscripts Mar 2024

Related material

Material held at the National Gallery Archive: NG7 Letters to the National Gallery, 1878-1914; NG8 Treasury Letters to the National Gallery; NG14 Acquisitions; NG16 Registry files; NG24 National Gallery press cuttings; NG38 Offers of pictures to the National Gallery: Filed by British artists; NG39 Offers of paintings sent to the National Gallery: Filed by Owner; NGA9 George Salting Papers; NG67 National Gallery Visual Files: Portraits; NG68 Letters and miscellaneous papers; NGA27 Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd Archive Associated material held in other archives: Royal Academy of Arts: Sir Edward Poynter, PRA, Royal Academy business [Ref. EJP] Other deposits of Poynter's papers are recorded in the National Register of Archives:

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