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Volume 24, Number 6 — June 2017

Artwork donated to King University

Elizabeth (Betty) Lincoln Francis, left, presented King University with a painting from her personal collection.
Elizabeth (Betty) Lincoln Francis, left, presented King University with a painting from her personal collection. "Jesus in the Temple" was painted by artist Margaret Elizabeth (Betty) King (1864-1943), the granddaughter of the founder of King College. Dr. Richard Ray, left, is interim president of King Universty.

October 05, 2014

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Elizabeth (Betty) Lincoln Francis presented King University with a painting from her personal collection. The donated painting, "Jesus in the Temple," was painted by artist Margaret Elizabeth (Betty) King (1864-1943). King was the granddaughter of the Rev. James King, who founded King University, then King College, in 1867. Betty Francis was herself the great-great-granddaughter of the Rev. James King.

"We are honored to accept the donation of this beautiful painting that was an original produced by the granddaughter of King's namesake, the Rev. James King," said Denise Asbury, director of development at King University. "Betty King was a renowned artist, and we are quite honored to receive this piece, which has been a much loved and treasured keepsake of her great-niece, Betty Francis. It truly feels like the painting is home, and we are deeply grateful for the thoughtfulness of this gift."

Betty King grew up in Bristol, Tenn., and attended Sullins College in Bristol, Va., where she later taught. King spent time studying art in Rome, as well as the Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. In addition to her studies in Italy, King also honed her skills as an artist in France. She spent time painting as well as learning to paint and fire porcelain. Her artistic inspiration came from that of the impressionists such as Raphael, Titian and Rembrandt.

King's travels and art studies also took her to Switzerland, Germany, the Caribbean Islands and Bermuda.

Upon her return to the United States, King taught at the National Gallery of Art, Randolph Macon Institute and St. Mary's Seminary.

King kept a studio in Vermont at the home of her nephew, Dr. James King Gray. "She had paintings stacked around her studio and rarely hung them," said Francis. "When I was there, I loved to go see my great-aunt and ask 'what have you [painted] now?'"

Francis commented, "My great-aunt influenced my life greatly. I always wanted to be a painter, but I did not receive that gift. I did become very interested in art history."

According to "The Book of Kings" by V.N. (Bud) Phillips, "Margaret Elizabeth [Betty] King, though she never married, did leave a notable legacy of fine art of her own hand, plus a host of students with whom she had patiently shared her talent and knowledge."

The painting, "Jesus in the Temple," joins the Neal and Alice Caldwell Art Collection, from which selected works are displayed around King's main campus in Bristol, Tenn., as well as in a web-based art gallery at http://museum.king.edu. The King University Museum of Fine Arts now features more than 360 pieces of art and 65 artifacts spanning centuries, genres, and media.

A! ExtraTopics: Art