Fairfax Murray (1849 - 1919)

Lot 136: Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, BT., A.R.A., R.W.S. (1833-1898)


December 4, 2002
London, United Kingdom

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Description: St Dominic with a false Rossetti monogram (lower right) watercolour with bodycolour 391/4 x 221/4 in. (99.7 x 56.5 cm.) NOTES In his monumental catalogue of William Morris's stained glass, The Stained Glass of William Morris and his Circle, 1974-5, the late A.C. Sewter listed a design of St Dominic by Burne-Jones as follows: 'DOMINIC, ST; with lily in book, and dog with torch and globe. Not identified BJ 576' (vol. 2, p. 290). The present watercolour clearly represents this image; the saint himself, the 'lily in book', the 'dog with torch' and the 'globe' (the large sphere cut off at the left-hand edge) are all present. The handling and technique are not typical of Burne-Jones's stained- glass cartoons, and it has been suggested that the executant might be Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), who acted as Burne-Jones's studio assistant in the late 1860s and as William Morris's principal painter of stained glass in the early 1870s. However, there was a moment, also in the early 1870s, when Burne-Jones did use gouache in this way for his stained-glass cartoons. Compare, for example, the emblems of the four Evangelists designed in 1872 for the chapel at Castle Howard, the cartoons for which are in the Victoria and Albert Museum (illustrated in Sewter, vol. 1, pls. 364-7). Particularly striking is the similarity between the handling of the dewlap of the dog in our picture and that of the bull, the emblem of St Luke, in the Castle Howard cartoons. The hand responsible for these passages must surely have been one and the same. The false Rossetti monogram at lower right must have been added to deceive at a later date.
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