A Royal Wedding Tribute

In honour of the marriage celebration of William, Prince of Wales, and Miss Catherine Middleton, the Museum has placed on view our portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Rumored at one time to be the sole portrait of the Queen on United States soil, the painting will be on view for a very limited time.

Commissioned to paint a life portrait of Elizabeth II, Winston-Salem artist Joe King sought to convey the “warm and charming personality” of the British monarch—quite a contrast to the imperious boy king Louis XV on the opposite wall. However, when the painting was unveiled in London, the critics pounced, dismissing it as a “Hollywood version of aristocracy.” The British public was generally kinder to the artist’s romantic idea of royalty, though at least one viewer remarked on the queen’s uncanny resemblance to Ingrid Bergman.

Joseph Wallace King, Queen Elizabeth II, 1971, oil on canvas, gift to the State of North Carolina from the Burroughs-Wellcome Foundation, 1972


  1. Posted April 27, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Love this! Yes, it is flattering to the Queen who is not a traditionally pretty face, but she is the Queen and I for one think she deserves to be flattered, she has sacrificed her personal life for her country. Love the Corgi at her feet.Thanks for sharing this portrait with us, I never knew of it’s existence.

  2. Chuck Till
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Reminded me of Grace Kelly at first.

    The irony of the critics’ reaction to this painting is that Diana subsequently became both royal and starlet. Did King see it coming? Why the ominous sky?

  3. Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    How au courant of our savvy museum to find this “in the stacks” and share it with us. It’s totally glamorous, but Elizabeth was quite a pretty young woman. People forget that; she was never as overtly glamorous as her sister Margaret, but she was actually prettier. I like the adoring Corgi at her feet too!

  4. Sheila Martin
    Posted June 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I have this in a print form and framed. This was given to my mother-in-law by Joe King, she was there for the unveiling of the portrait. It reads “love from London Joe”. My mother-in-law had this hanging in her home in Winston Salem (she knew Joe King.) After she passed away in 2003 my sister-in-law shipped it to my husband and I (I’m English) now we have our own portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

    I assure you that it is really quite beautiful, not just the scenery but also Queen Elizabeth.

  5. g. zenke
    Posted June 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Joe did a dark sky in all of his portraits, as well as a castle, real or imagined. The man did well considering he was self-taught in his early career, then studying later in/around Florence Italy. The fact that Joe agreed to paint the Queen with her clothes on was a deep sign of respect!

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