Percy Fred Murray
(English-American, 1880-1973) was born in Camberwell, South East London, England on October 1, 1880 and received his general education through private instruction and church schools in England. His formal art education was through private instruction in London and England. His career experience included commercial art for European and American advertising purposes, colored and finished photo portraits in oil and watercolors, sepia, hand-colored gelatin silver prints, as well as copied and reproduced old and faded photographs, ivory miniatures and landscape painting. In the summer of 1904, Percy married Rosetta "Rosie" Maude (née Watts, 1885-1963) of Cardiff, South Wales, England in the county of Glamorganshire, Wales and they had one son Sidney O. Murray (Virginian M. [née Garner]) and one daughter Myfanwy R. Murray (Mrs. Warren E. Boone). He immigrated to the United States from Liverpool, England on March 14th, 1912 aboard the “S.S. Celtic”.
Circa the mid 1910’s to 1920’s, Percy was residing at 58 Kermit Avenue in Buffalo while working as a commercial artist and also for the Colegrove Bros. Inc. as a photographer, artist and retoucher. On September 12, 1918 Percy registered for the WWI draft. By 1919, he was residing at 51 North Pearl St. in Buffalo, NY, and eventually settled in Williamsville, NY. He continued to work at Colegrove Bros. through the early 1920’s and also published and sold his famous series of artistic hand-colored photographs called the “Murray Prints” during that time. He later became a U.S. citizen on March 5, 1925. He exhibited in the "Second Annual Exhibition of the Arts Club of Buffalo" in April, 1926 for the paintings "Teasels" and "Pomegranates". Circa the mid-late 1920's, Percy and his wife traveled through the western United States while Percy earned a living as a painter and when the going got tough, he boxed to help make ends meet.
“The Murray Prints” were published circa the early 1920’s by the Colegrove Brothers, Inc., a photographic portrait studio and enlargement house located at 774-776 Main Street in Buffalo, NY. Percy worked for Colegrove as an artist, photographer and retoucher circa the mid 1910’s through the early 1920’s. They called themselves “The House of Distinctive Portraiture”, and they also maintained a portrait studio in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada under the name of the Rounds-Colegrove Company. The “Murray Prints” were gelatin silver prints finished in hand-coloring, and they weren't cheap back in the day; retailing from about $2.00-3.00 (for the small prints) up to $18.25 (for larger 22" x 28" prints) in 1920 and marketed through many galleries, small retail shops and department stores around Western New York (which is equal to about $25-38.00 up to $227.00 in today's dollar). Murray also worked at their Woodstock studio location from 1919 on. His work can be found in the permanent collection of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY. Another notable photographer who had his photos published and included with the “Murray Prints”, was the famous photo-pictorialist photographer Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. (American, 1862-1932).
Each print was signed and titled in pen & ink by Murray and drymounted to their original cream backing stock with an inventory stamp on the back of the stock. Murray typically signed the prints “P.F. Murray”.
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By 1942, during WWII Percy and Rosie were residing at 1154 Virginia Park Street in Detroit Michigan where Percy was working as a photographer for the well known Craine’s Studios, and he also had registered for the WWII draft. He and his wife eventually moved back to the Western New York region and settled in Williamsville, NY. Percy’s wife Rosie died in 1963 and he passed away in 1973 and they are both buried in Williamsville Cemetery, Williamsville, NY.
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(Written by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., meibohmfinearts.com, Sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)