Charles Fairfax Murray was born in September 1849 in Bow, East London. He entered Edward Burne-Jones’s studio as an assistant in 1866-7 and also worked for William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Fairfax Murray was one of a number of artists commissioned by John Ruskin as copyists.
This is the first commission ever executed by Murray for Ruskin. While in Siena in May 1873, Murray received instructions from Ruskin to ‘make what you can of the Peace’ and the ‘pretty virtues’ in Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good Government, one of a cycle of frescoes painted in a room in the Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall) between 1338 and 1341.
The enthroned figure symbolises wise civic government, and is flanked by Magnanimity, Temperance and Justice (to his left) and Prudence, Fortitude and Peace (on his right). Above are the three virtues, Faith, Charity and Hope. On the extreme left is another depiction Justice, looking up at Wisdom; below her sits Concord, with a carpenter’s plane on her lap (a symbol of levelling, to signify equality). In her left hand she holds two ropes attached to the scales of Justice, which she passes on to a line of good citizens.