A Brush with History:
Paintings by Sidney E. King from the Collection of Herbert R. Collins





Creator of nearly two hundred large historical paintings for the National Park service placed on historic sites, Sidney King’s magic made the past come alive. Herb Collins, retied Smithsonian curator, King’s neighbor, friend and patron, collected many of his works. King was born near Boston in 1906 and painted until age 92. He died in 2002. Our exhibit ranges from Jamestown to the last days of the wounded Stonewall Jackson. Highlights include a spring scene at Meadow Farm, home of the young colt Secretariat, later Triple Crown winner, and King’s self portrait in his studio as he paints the 1862 Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. Over the years, local aspiring artists enjoyed the painting classes King conducted in Tappahannock, Bowling Green and Fredericksburg.


 

The Young Colt Secetariat and his Mother
at Meadow Farm, Caroline County, Virginia
Acrylic on canvas


 

The soft new colors of pasture, brook and flowering trees recreate the spring of 1970, when Secretariat was foaled. This horse set the standard of excellence in thoroughbred racing by winning the Triple Crown in 1973, breaking the track records on all three races. The records remain intact today. Meadow Farm, Secratariat’s birthplace, has been preserved from development by the State Fair of Virginia and is now known as Meadow Event Park.


 
Jamestown Farmer of 1650
Acrylic on canvas - 1996


 

A golden autumn glow pervades this depiction of a bountiful harvest, replete with corn, pumpkins, squash and apples. A tobacco barn is on the right. King originally developed this composition to illustrate early colonial agriculture for the 350th Jamestown Anniversary Celebration held in 1957.


 
The First Thanksgiving
Oil on canvas - 1991


 

On December 4th, 1619, settlers from England arrived at Berkeley Hundred upriver from Jamestown, went ashore and offered prayers of thanks in accordance with their instructions that “the day of our ships’ arrival…shall be yearly and perpetually kept as a Day of Thanksgiving. King originally developed this composition for the Jamestown Exhibition of 1957.


 
Roy's Warehouse, Port Royal, 1732
Acrylic on canvas 1996


 

In 1716, tobacco Inspector John Roy acquired his warehouse in what was then Essex County. By 1727, when Caroline County was formed, “Rolling Roads” to Port Royal were established. Planters transported their tobacco in 900 pound barrels called hogsheads pulled by oxen or in horse carts covered with quilts to keep the tobacco moist. Here British merchant sailing ships anchored in the harbor. With the enterprising Roy family at its center, Port Royal became a thriving center of colonial commerce.


 
The Wounded Stonewall Jackson Arriving at Fairfield
Acrylic on cavas


 

General Jackson is carried on a litter from a Confederate ambulance to the plantation office of the Thomas Coleman Chandler family near Guinea, Caroline County, where his doctor recommended he be cared for in this quiet and private outbuilding. Mistaken for the enemy, Jackson had been wounded at Chancellorsville by one of his own men eight days earlier on May 10, 1863. His left arm had been amputated. Jackson’s wife Mary Anna and daughter, Julia remained with him here four days before he died of pneumonia.

This building is now the Jackson Shrine. King painted a larger version of this scene to be placed there by the National Park Service.


 

Storing Ice at Jamestown, 1981
Acrylic on canvas 1981


 

A 14 foot diameter pit for the storage of ice was excavated at the colonial Jamestown, Virginia site in 1955. This is a smaller version of an interpretive painting made for the 1957 Exhibition there. A man saws ice from a pond in the distance and, beside the ice house, children play on barrel-stave sleds.


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