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Charles John Fairfax
, c.1860

by 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
Accession number: 2002.81