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Charles John Fairfax

c. 1860
Edwin Dalton

pastel on paper laid on canvas (frame: 80.5 cm x 66.3 cm, support: 68.7 cm x 58.5 cm)

Charles John Fairfax (1829–1863), newspaper proprietor, was born in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, the eldest son of John Fairfax and his wife, Sarah, and arrived in Sydney with his parents in 1838. Like his father, Charles went into the printing trade at a young age, serving an apprenticeship at the Sydney Morning Herald and then becoming a partner in the paper when John Fairfax acquired it outright in 1853. The same year, Charles married Warwickshire-born Annie Fairfax (1832–1911), with whom he had three children. Charles’s younger brother, James Reading Fairfax (1834–1919) became a partner in the newspaper in 1856, from which time the business was known as John Fairfax & Sons. During this period, the Herald reached a daily circulation of 6,600 copies, Fairfax’s success increasing with the founding of the Sydney Mail in 1860. Charles died as a result of a horse riding accident, aged 34, in December 1863, one obituary attributing the Herald’s influence in part to his ‘personal worth’ and ‘business abilities’.

This work is likely to be the portrait of Charles John Fairfax known to have been included in Edwin Dalton's exhibition of pastel-coloured photographs, held in his rooms in 1864.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of John Fairfax Holdings Ltd 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Edwin Dalton (age 53 in 1860)

Charles Fairfax (age 31 in 1860)

Subject professions

Media and communications

Donated by

Fairfax Media Limited (13 portraits)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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