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King University News :: Artwork Donated to King University

Artist of donated work granddaughter of King University founder, the Rev. James King

BRISTOL, Tenn., Oct. 3, 2014 – On Sept. 22, 2014, 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 The King University Museum of Fine Arts now features more than 360 pieces of art and 65 artifacts spanning centuries, genres, and media.


King University is a Presbyterian, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.