Raymond Rowley King

Raymond Rowley King

This page is being taken down in favor of pages segmented alphabetically.




Current Market for Raymond Rowley King’s Work

    There have some inquiries recently as to the current market for King’s work, in particular as to prices.  Some discussion of the marketplace for art is useful to understand the dynamics.  Fifty years ago, when King first became popular, an art gallery would take one third of the sale price to cover its costs.  That rose to 40% for a while.  For the last twenty years, or so, it has been 50%.  Now, there are rumors of 60%.  There is also the not insignificant cost of shipping large paintings with safety.

      For their percentage, the gallery provides retail space for showing the artwork, a suitable atmosphere in terms of temperature, humidity and lighting, insurance, advertising, sales staff, bookkeeping (so that the artist gets paid) and staff to deal with the increasing intrusion of government into the marketplace.  The best interests of a gallery may be served by representing established artist’s with a history of sales.  Those relationships often begin early on with the gallery “taking a chance” on a new artist.

     In the case of Raymond Rowley King, his reputation was built in four places: in Vacaville, at the Medical Facility, during the early 1960s; in Israel, in the 1960s and 1970s; and through the Clothes Horse Gallery, both in Portland, Oregon and in Palm Beach, California, from the 1960s until Ray’s death in the early 1980s.  His works are very widely distributed in the United States, South Africa, Denmark, Scotland, Israel, and in Sweden.  Yet, today, his name is not well known to most art galleries.

     It is this condition that I am attempting to ameliorate through maintaining an online presence for Ray and for other artists such as Maxine Dal-Ben and Victor Heady.  These were artists that I first knew of fifty years ago.  Their works were ground-breaking.  I suppose that those who collected their works may now be amenable to donating them to Art Museums, but such places are frequently over-flowing with donations.

      Such pieces seldom see the light of day.  There are simply too many of them.  They are expensive to store and to handle.  Display space in art museums is limited.  The Internet, on the other hand, has virtually limitless storage space for images.  The added benefit when a collector puts their collection on-line is that the world does not have to wait until the collector dies to get a chance to see the art.  The additional benefit is that the works of the artist do not remain hidden in the homes of collectors.  The artist’s work can be seen, understood and appreciated for decades that it would otherwise remain invisible, and forgotten.






Majestic Hotel

This piece was just sold at auction in Pennsylvania.  The title is Majestic Hotel.

Majestic Hotel by Raymond Rowley King

Majestic Hotel by Raymond Rowley King



The painting itself is signed “King 58”.  His full name is written out on the frame.


Title unknown at this time – San Francisco Cityscape with Victorians

This painting is said to be a view of a city from a prison.  That may be so, however, King was incarcerated at Vacaville Medical Facility in Vacaville, California.  The only hill anywhere near that prison is Cement Hill in neighboring Fairfield.  There are no Victorian houses on Cement Hill … only cows, and the remains of the once-thriving city called Cement.

View from Prison by Raymond Rowley king

In its day, Cement had a complete cement manufacturing plant that was constructed down the side of Cement Hill so that, once the local supply of limestone and clay was brought to the top of the hill, the process of turning those minerals in to cement proceeded down the hill, with the final product loaded at the level of the delta.  Cement was a complete city unto itself with a housing for the workers and their families, schools for their children, a hotel, a general store, a bar, and a whorehouse.  If there were any Victorian era houses there, they were long ago torn down along with the rest of the plant after it closed in the late 1890s.  The local supply of limestone had run out.  The plant was briefly re-opened in the early years of the 20th Century using limestone trucked in from El Dorado county, but this proved to be too costly.

This particular painting measure a little over 42 inches square and is in Tel-Aviv as of this writing.  It is being offered for sale.


Jazz Combo

Recently (January 2012) sold at auction in Brentwood, California is an oil painting of some jazz musicians.

I have temporarily labelled it Jazz Combo.  The signature is done in a style that is characteristic of his, however, he signed only “Rowley King”.

Early Signature of Raymond Rowley King

It is possible that this was painted in an earlier time, prior to his incarceration.  Raymond was a jazz musician.  He was an accomplished artist by the time he was locked up in Vacaville Medical Facility.  He had to have created some works to get that good.  The work measures 48 inches in width by 55 inches tall.


Title Unknown (Dancer With Red Hair, perhaps)

An email has arrived with images of another painting.  I am hopeful of finding more details such as dimensions, title, date painted, where it was painted and on what medium.  It is oil on wood, 19-1/2″ x 39-1/4″ x 5/16″ thick.

On July 17, 2013, this painting is was offered on eBay at.  The starting bid was $500 delivered.  It did not sell at that time.

The Dancer Prepares by Raymond Rowley King

Note the musculature in the area of the left bicep.  That plus the red hair cause me to believe that this is a painting of a male member of that Ballet troup who later appeared in A Chorus Line.

Here is a detail of the upper half of the painting.

Dancer Prepares by Raymond Rowley King upper detail

And a detail of the lower half.

Dancer Prepares by Raymond Rowley King lower detail

And a closer detail of the neck and the hands, which are always shown doing something in King’s work.

Dancer Prepares by Raymond Rowley King closeup of hands and neck


Girl On A Roof

This exquisite triptych is titled Girl On A Roof.  It feature three images of a woman taking a bath in a tub and toweling off.

Girl On A Roof by Raymond Rowley King a triptych

The dimensions of each are 7.5″ x 6.75″.  They are oil on flat panel.  These were painted in January of 1966 in Tel Aviv.   The painting on the left gives us a feeling for the circumstances.  The bathing area is small with tile placed vertically to protect the wall from water yet, it is really too small to be a bath tub.  There is a light shadow cast against the wall.  From the projected angle, the light source must be nearly horizontal.  From the title, we can infer that the light is from the sun.   The portions of tile that are in the shadow are illuminated by the sky as well, thus the shadow is not too dark.

Girl On A Roof left 1 of 3 in triptych by Raymond Rowley King

The subjects hands are busy working with the bar of soap.  Irregular pipes run exposed along the wall.  Nearby shelves are cluttered.  Here, a detail shows the brush work on the face.

Detail of left painting in Girl On A Roof triptych by Raymond Rowley King

In the middle painting we see that there is a small canister of water resting in the bathing area.

Girl On A Roof middle of 3 in triptych by Raymond Rowley King

The subject is attending to personal hygiene.  She appears to be wearing a sandal.  In a detail of the middle painting, we see what may be a slotted spoon.

Detail from middle painting of Girl On A Roof triptych by Raymond Rowley King

The right-hand painting of the triptych shows her toweling off.  the sandal is more apparent.  The clutter on the shelves seen are possibly equipment use in cooking.

Third painting in Girl On A Roof triptych by Raymond Rowley King

Once again, a detail reveals the treatment of the face.

Detail of Right side painting in Girl On A Roof triptych by Raymond Rowley King

The model who stood for these paintings may have been one named Contessa.  This work is now in a private collection in Europe.

Study in Paint and Varnish #2

And a fourth work of Ray’s from the same vendor.  This one is eight-1/2 inches in diameter:

Study in Paint and Varnish Number 2 by Raymond Rowley King

In this piece, two figures are presented.  In the foreground, a nude woman is brushing her hair.   There seems to be a reflection in a mirror behind her the light from which provides some outline of her body.

Study in Paint and Varnish Number 2 by Raymond Rowley King detail

Note that, in each case, the hands of the figures are engaged in some activity.

Study in Paint and Varnish Number 2 by Raymond Rowley King reverse side

The back side of the painting reveals that it was done in 1971 and, as is true of all four, they were painted in Israel.



From the Glasgow Herald

A newspaper article has emerged from the past.  I am putting it at the top of the page so that it will be easier to find.  It is repeated in the text about 2/3 of the way down the page.

From the Glasgow Herald – December 14, 1964 (under Art Shows inEdinburg):

At the Crestline Gallery a feature has been made of the paintings of Raymond Rowley King. a Californian now living in Edinburgh.These, with their constant palette of the darker earth colours thinly brushed (this painter, as a technician and draughtsman, is both assured and able), comes as something of a relief after so much conscious brilliance (referring to other artworks on show).

But one is troubled by the extreme polarity visible in King’s work.It is difficult to understand how the man who painted “Highland Tapestry” for example (a bold abstract with more or less landscape connections), or even “The Man from Leith” with its broad treatment of realism, could conceive the little composition “The Dance Studio” so niggled and so fussy.


The purpose of this page is to present the collected works of a brilliant artist as well as to add to the knowledge regarding his biography.   My wife and I purchased our first painting by Raymond Rowley King over forty years ago.  In recent times, we have been able to locate other of his works some of which we were able to purchase.  Many of the works covered in this diary will be in private collections other than our own.  If you have one of his pieces and would like to have it included in this presentation, email me at collectedartworks (@) hotmail.com using the name ‘Raymond Rowley King’ in the subject line.  If you would like to add any information about a piece or about Ray’s history, please email me.
Also, if you have one of this artist’s paintings and wish to sell it, please contact me through email. Occasionally people make inquiries through me regarding available pieces.

Three paintings are known to have sold at a single auction in Europe from 1999 to 2000. An Oil on panel dated 1974 and titled Ebba with a Book sold on 18 Jul 1999. An Oil on canvas measuring 50″ x 50″ and titled EuropeanTown sold on 12 Jan 2000 . An Oil on panel measuring 54″ x 54″, dated 1970 and titled The Clock sold on 24 Oct 2000 probably in France. I have had an enquiry regarding the whereabouts of a large painting by King known as Sutter Street Tapestry. It is most probably somewhere in the San FranciscoBay area. If you have possession of this painting, please contact me. I have recently received an additional inquiry regarding a large oil (approx. 50″ x 50″) titled A View of Elspeth last seen in mid 1970s. It is said to have been sold through the Clothes Horse Gallery. The left half of the painting depicted a steeply terraced gathering of Victorian architecture. If anyone knows the whereabouts of this work, please contact me. I may have a buyer for the work and at the very least, I would like to show it on this diary.  An image of this work, taken from a brochure, is shown below:

Below is a photo of Ray that is from an article written around 1962 or 1963.  He appears to be working on a piece known to me as 6 pm Post Street.  I may be misremembering the title of it.  Its whereabouts are unknown to me.  If anyone has a copy of the article (it was probably published in northern California) I would like to talk with the author.

Ray was born in on February 13, 1927and diedAugust 13, 1984, a life far too short for such a brilliant talent.  He was survived by his second wife and one son, Moshe, both of whom lived in Northern California.

If you have any information about these works or about Ray, please leave a note or email me at collectedartworks AT hotmail DOT com.

One of his students, Adit (Edith) Pank, has become a successful artist and also an illustrator of children’s books.

Saturday Noon

This work is of two figures with one working on the hair of the other.At first glance they appear to be women.This may not have been the inspiration for the piece.If I were to hazard a guess, this was done while Ray was incarcerated at Vacaville Medical Facility in California.Effeminate male homosexuals (known in prison as ‘punks’), who were facing state prison time, were usually sent to this facility to protect them from the general population of prisoners.For Ray, they were an interesting subject matter, one which shows up in paintings done well after his release.

Of course, in prison, they would not have worn skirts and blouses or have been permitted to grow their hair long.But they could act like women.From a private collection.

The dimensions of this piece are not currently available. The bottom portion of the painting is shown in the second image as described by the paintings owner, “there is a lower portion (to the painting) with left figure sitting on a stool with rungs. The right hand figure takes interesting posture and wears sandals. Both figures “fade” into outlined figures only, no wash, color, or human texture”. This second image was submitted to me on October 16, 2006, for which I am very grateful. It is no doubt done in oil, probably on 1/4 inch tempered Masonite.

Five Sisters

Five Sisters is a work done, in 1975, in oil on six small pieces of Masonite.Once framed, it measures 41″ x 50-1/2″.

A detail of the left three panels shows three of the sisters.

and of the right three panels shows two sisters and another (left) whom we are to guess is their mother.


Details of the left panel shows one sister with something interesting in her upraised right hand and another sister turned sideways giving an additional clue regarding the period of the clothing that they all wear.

A third detail of the right panel shows that another sister is holding an odd device.

These individual panels all begin with stain on gesso for the background.Note that the background contains evidence of both vertical strokes as well as ones in the horizontal.This ensemble item is in a private collection though, at this time, its whereabouts are unknown to this author.It is presumed to be in Israel.





Cocktail Party

Here’s a moody piece from the brush of King.

Cocktail Party By Raymond Rowley King

This 22 inch by 21-1/2 work was done most probably on Masonite in 1963 while Ray was still in Vacaville.  We see a rather slinky model, probably a punk, vamping the artist while wearing a lamp shade on his head.  The model’s left hand is held up in a ‘stylish’ manor.  To the models right is a square liquor bottle created with a few strokes suggestin the glistening of light off of the glass edges and the tall, thin, round neck of that bottle.

One imagines effeminate mail homosexuals in prison with little to do but act as though they were somewhere else, perhaps at a cocktail party.  In a private collection, probably in California.

The Raven

Not all of Raymond Rowley King’s works are immediately accessible to the viewer.  One or two are downright disturbing.  That was my feeling when I first came upon a photo of a piece called, ‘The Raven.’  The work appears to have been painted in 1963 or 1964 and purchased either at Vacaville or from a Bay area dealer who had obtained it at one of the ‘prison artists’ shows.

This seems a rather unhappy bird, as well it should being in a cage too small.  In that regard, it may be viewed as a self-portrait of the artist himself whose time spent in prison was surely time wasted although, on the other hand, he had never been so prolific prior to incarceration.  The bird appears to be cleaning a feather with its beak.

The Monks

The Monks presents itself as a set of sixteen Masonite panels painted in Denmark the Autumn of 1975.  The overall size of the framed work is 10 inch by 39-1/2 inch.  This is the entire piece though the photo was taken at an angle.

The Monks by Raymond Rowley King

A detail of the left is shown here:

The Monks by Raymond Rowley King

And a detail of the right is shown here:

The Monks by Raymond Rowley King

Note the edges of the panels.  These are made from 1/4″ thick pieces of Masonite.  The mostly flat surface of each painted panel stands out from the background on which they are mounted.  It creates a rather harsh, abrupt feeling that may colour our feeling toward the subject matter.  Contrast this with the edges of the panels in the work called The Parlor House.  From a private collection.  Location unknown at this time.  I have had communication from and individual who would be interested in purchasing The Monks, if it is ever offered up for sale.

The Parlor House

Raymond Rowley King’s The Parlor House is a powerful study done in oil on Masonite in pieces that are shaped like window.  The effect is to make us voyeurs able only to peer through these windows and to come no further and to not be able to hear.

The Parlor House by Raymond Rowley King

As we come in closer for details, we see the faces in the left three ‘windows.’

The Parlor House by Raymond Rowley King

The middle three panels.

The Parlor House by Raymond Rowley King

The left three panels.

The Parlor House by Raymond Rowley King

Finally, an expanded view of the right-most 2/3 of the work.

The Parlor House by Raymond Rowley King

One person, who had seen this piece on another site, remarked that the faces seem like prostitutes.  Quite so.  This piece was done in the Winter of 1964, which I take to mean December of 1963 through March of 1964 at a time when King was still in Vacaville Medical Facility and, for the most part, his models for women were the screaming queens know in prison as ‘punks.’  Although prison regulation dictated the clothes that they wore and the style of haircut, they could still act like women sufficiently to be models for this kind of painting.  They could also have been painted nude, with clothing added.
Note that in the two panels on the left, the arm in the first panel is continuous with the hand in the second as though the two paintings were connected and that the strip between the two parts had been erased.  Prior to applying gesso to the surface of the Masonite, the surface is sanded down along the edges giving them a rounded appearance and making the edges very thin.
The over-all work measures 35-1/2 inches by 48 inches.
The whereabouts of this work is unknown to me, possibly somewhere in Southern California.  I have had communication from and individual who would be interested in purchasing The Parlor House, if it is ever offered up for sale.
 The Sleeping Girl

These two works, both done in 1966, seem related to me though they are not of the same woman.
Sleeping Girl by Raymond Rowley King
The above work, Sleeping Girl, is 18 inches by 18 inches and is of Ray’s first wife, Happy for whom Ray had much concern.  A photgraph of the two of them appears in the Edwards/Pedersen Collection.   It is possible that she is still alive and, if so, I would like to hear from her and to know her story and her outcomes.

Estelle by Raymond Rowley King

Estelle, in the second piece, was an actress and entertainer of considerable beauty who died suddenly in 1979 at the age of 53.  Though Ray had met her previously, the work was completed in Israel in 1966 from several Polaroid impressions.

In private collections.  The whereabouts of Sleeping Girl is unknown.  Estelle is in a collection on the North Coast of Oregon.

A Study In Line and Wash

A Study in Line and Wash is 22-3/4 inches by 40-3/4 inches.  From the appearance of the background stain and from the odd dimensions, one would guess that this is done on Masonite.  The year was 1969 and available information is that it was done in New York State and may even have been done on the Long Island estate of Elaine deKooning.

A Study in Line and Wash by Raymond Rowley King

It is interesting to note how much expression that Ray derives from the small area of the face that is exposed.

Head Turning

This 1975 piece, which is a study of a woman’s head turned at six different angles, measures 11 inches by 27 inches and appears to be done on Masonite.

Head Turning by Raymond Rowley King
Steel Work Box

The theme of the woman’s head is echoed on the surface of Raymond’s steel work box, which measured 12 inches by 16-3/4.
Steel Work Box by Raymond Rowley King
The current whereabouts of this workbox is unknown though it is presumed to be in California in that King died in San Francisco.  Head Turning is said to be in California.

Sand Spit 1964

A third large painting (48″x48″) has emerged on the subject of the Japanese prisoner ship the Osaka Maru.  Done in 1964, it also depicts the skeletal remains of the sunken hull.  The other two versions may be seen at http://www.manevolves.com/edwards-pedersen-collection/ .  One is titled Sea Poem, with a subtitle, Osaka Maru.  The second is also titled San Spit and is somewhat smaller than this third version.
Sandspit by Raymond Rowley King 1964
This painting is in a collection in Northern California.  It may be available for sale soon.  Contact me at (916) 383-5341 if you are interested in the piece.

This is a self-portrait even if a bit of a fanciful one.  It was done in the winter of 1967, probably in Denmark where it is presumed to remain.  The top hat like one that belonged to Raymond’s grandfather.  Putting on that top hat made Raymond look older than he was.  Oil on canvas, the piece measures 26 inches by 58 inches.
Myself by Raymond Rowley King
A closer look.
Myself by Raymond Rowley King detail
And a head shot.
Myself by Raymond Rowley King - headshot


Given the title, we have to believe that this is a self-portrait of Ray.  It was Winter in Denmark and heavy clothing would have been called for, but this is more stylized and the top hat seems to be a flourish.  There is a bicycle present and riding such a device in Winter in Denmark might be accomplished only with some difficulty.  My father came from Denmark and his Winter-ware was an Überrock that, when removed, was made of such thick material that would stand up by itself.  No bicycle could be ridden wearing such an item of apperal.

So, is this the artist, so interested in the lifestyles of the locals so that he could ‘blend in’ without fear of discovery?  There exists a painting by Ray that is of this face and of this face alone.  It must represent his view of himself to a degree that is almost repulsive,  I am set upon the course of tracking that small self-portrait down.  It is almost certainly still in the Sacramento area.


Why this painting bears this title is no longer a mystery.  Ray was brought up by his grandparents in southern Oregon.  This image must have represented extreme comfort to him.

Oregon by Raymond Rowley Kiong

What we do find in this 13-1/2 inch by 13-1/2 inch piece is a wealth of details to be discovered upon extended study.  The box in the lower left seems to contain wood for the stove.    Light comes from the firebox through holes in the cast iron on the left side of the stove.  Fresh cookies or muffins have emerged and on the top over the open oven door perhaps some water is being warmed for bathing.  A coffee pot is being kept warm on the back left above the fire box.  Is there some bacon frying in the skillet?  The painting gives us the smell of burning wood, fresh hot baked items, coffee and sizzling bacon.  A cup is being kept warm on the horizontal part above the cooking surface.  It is alive with sound, smells and the anticipation of a cook nearby and about to enter the scene  A hooked rug gives us warmth for our feet  Light pours through the window.

What objects inhabit the upper left-hand corner of this piece where the stovepipe enters the wall carrying the smoke outside?  What is the function of the horizontal part above the cooking surface?

There exists a version of this scene that includes his son as a young boy.

A Sacramento Wedding

Sacramento Wedding by Raymond Rowley KingThis piece is reproduced from an old magazine article dating back to the 1960s.

Happy and Raymond King

A photograph of Ray and his first wife Happy (known as Hap … actual name Elspeth) has emerged.  It is from May of 1966 when they were living in Tel Aviv.  The photographer was Stuart Fox.

We can see two paintings that are figure studies hanging on the wall.  The one on the left appears to be wearing jeans.  The frontal painting to the right of it may be the reverse view of the same model.  To the left of the paintings there are several items, notably keys, hanging on the wall.  Someone who was close to Ray told me that it was his way to decorate the places where he was with a variety of objects hanging from hooks.   Above Ray’s head hangs a decoration that appears to be a half-silvered spherical light bulb.  It may have acted as a pull for the window shade.

On this day I have had the privilege of seeing many photographs of Ray and some of those who were a part of his life.  There were photographs from the time in which he served sentences in Vacaville Medical Faclity in circumstances that are difficult to comprehend.  There were prison guards whose lives were so mundane that their only choice was to work as guard in a prison setting, forcing hundreds of men to have haircuts within certain parameters, to wear the clothing provide with very little opportunity for self-expression.  The guards themselves had no more freedom of expression on their clothing or personal appearance and yet, here was a man whose time and concentration and every bit of energy went into creating Art.  A sketch pad would be filled, a canvas covered with the most exquisite painting, blocks of styrofoan would be rounded, covered with plaster and gesso and painted with marvelous scenes from history, then hung in the dining rooms of the prison.  Late into the night, he could be found at would work painting as though he had no other mission but to make that Art happen.  How many of us have that drive … that power .. that situation in which our only route to sanity and away from complete boredom … is to create, to draw, to paint every waking moment …  for eleven years of our life?

“That’s what it’s like to be a slave.”  I borrow that line from the film, “Blade Runner.”  There are those years of incarceration that Ray faced because somewhere along the line, he became addicted to heroin.  In those days there were no drug diversion programs.  Narcotics Anonymous was about thirteen steps away from being created.  The “junkie” was a character of fiction, represented by the filmed struggles of Frank Sinatra, turned into a monument to the simplicity of overcoming addiction to heroin during the short course of a Hollywood movie.  The response that Ray had to prison time was to draw, paint and create Art for as many waking moments as he had available to him.  The story told to me adds up to one in which the whole phenomenon of people coming to prisons to see “primal Art” and to pick it up cheap begins with Ray.  Ray’s people … his mother and his grandfather … were worlds away from understanding either Ray’s addiction to heroin or to the creative process.  Ray was both a slave to that powerful opiate and to that urge in the human makeup to create and leave something that will last … and, ultimately to define … one’s human existence.

There was an area in Vacaville Medical Facility that was set aside for prisoners to use for painting.  To many prisoners, it was a craft project.  For a few who had had some training in the arts, it was a place for some release from the boredom.  For Ray, it was a place so important to the expression of his skills and talent that, for reasons that are not clear, he had keys to the studio where most of the painting took place.  In a mileau in which virtually all prisoners were confined to their cells during the night, Ray could be found working on one or more paintings during the wee hours of the morning.  In a perverse way, the conditions were ideal for this creative genius.  He was, at the very least, a people person.  He did have sufficient sway over the prison operation and the local Media that, when his work (and the work of one or two others) was ready , the visitors would show up in the prison parking lot, wanting to see the very promising “prison art.”  For many, it was a way to facilitate the otherwise elusive “rehabilitation.”  For others, it was a way to obtain, rather cheaply, works of art that rivaled those in museum collections.  In Ray’s case it wasn’t just, “In this painting, I express my repentance and sorrow for my crime … and please let me out on my next parole hearing.”  For Ray, each show was an opportunity to sell the few pieces that he had left from the last show plus those new works he had created since the last one.

It has been suggested that Happy may still be alive.  She was known as “Hap”, but her formal name was Elspeth.  If she is still around, I would like to hear from her.

After doing some research, both using Google and talking to a photographer and an owner of a gallery that features photography, there seems to be little record of a Stuart Fox except for a reference to the book by Pearl S. Buck titled “The People of Japan: A Perceptive Portrait of Their Life Today” and another to photography done for a botanical garden in Australia.  It may be that he was more widely know in Europe and in Israel.

There was another photographer who took pictures in the prison.  I think that I met him back around 1963.  He had come into an art gallery where I worked and had shown an interest in works of different prisoners … works that had been purchased by the owner of the Gallery for resale.  I later described him to another artist that I knew who had been “in the joint” with Raymond and, in fact, had learned to paint from him.  He said that this photographer had just gotten out on parole and that he had been the one that the prison officials would call on to photograph thing that occured such a grizzly murders.  I have recently seen more photograph taken of Raymond in the studio with other inmates.  He may be the person who took the picture of Ray working on 6pm Post Street that is on the entry page here.

I would very much like to talk with Elspeth (Hap) about herself and her relationship with Ray.

Kibbutz Shower Room

A new work emerged in July of 2008 from a private collection in Oregon.  It is done in oil on a circular piece of fiberboard like Masonite, 16-1/2″ in diameter.

Kibbutz Shower Room 1967

As the title implies, it depicts a shower room on a kibbutz in Israel.  Note that the hands that are shown are doing something.  They are busy … not just simply “there”.

Here is a view with a bit more detail:

Kibbutz Shower Room by Raymond Rowley King 1967 detail

The image here is roughly one half the actual size.  The amount of detail is extraordinary … the wineglass in the right hand of the forward figure for instance and the knuckles and thumbnail.  In the background a water pipe rises, fastened to the wall and juts out to a faucet with the faucet handle seen as a suggestion of light against the area on the wall not lit directly by the shaded lightbulb.

The reverse side of the painting bears Ray’s inscription:

Kibbutz Shower Room by Raymond Rowley King 1967 inscription on back

The painting was done in the Autumn of 1967 in København.  He may have been working from sketches.  If anyone can identify the specific kibbutz, I would appreciate it.

The Critics

Early in the process of having prisoner art shows at Vacaville Medical Facility, there must have come around a certain number of ‘art critics.’  There is an old saw that goes, ‘Those who cannot do, teach and those who cannot teach, criticize.  The Critics, done in oil on 37-1/2 inch by 45-1/2 inch canvas in 1962, shows two such creatures as aloof and stylish even as he demonstrates a handling of paint that few critics could fully understand.

The Critics by Raymond Rowley King

Of course the chair is a fiction, but its design is such as to emphasize the aloofness of the two subjects.

The Critics by Raymond Rowley King focus

Above we see in the first detail the almost bored expression of the man while the woman appears to be studying a work or perhaps studying the artist.

The Critics by Raymond Rowley King legs detail

In the second detail we have a chance to examine more closely how the brushwork captures the woman’s legs.  One can almost feel the strength of the bones inside yet the legs are soft, smooth and elegant.  The models for the painting were a fellow inmate and a small pocket-size snapshot of the inmate’s wife.

Note the delicate rendering of her right hand … she is holding something between her thumb and two fingers … perhaps a nosh.  Note also, the fine detail on the abdomen of the dress near her hand.  Nor is his left hand idle either … it is clutching his right arm.

In a private collection in California.

Studies From The Royal Winnipeg Ballet

The word that I had from Victor Heady was that after Raymond Rowley King was paroled, his parole officer advised him along the lines that he knew that Ray would come up dirty one day on a drug test and that he, the officer, would have to bust him back to the Joint (Vacaville Medical Facility in California) and that Ray would be well advised to split the country.One version has it that Ray then fled to Canada, married a woman there, got a British passport and left for Israel ending up living in a kibbutz.  Another version is that he simply applied for a passport while on parole and it was issued to him without any unusual delay.Somewhere along the way he must have stopped by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.He may have returned in 1970 to do these two studies.  It is also possible that they were done from photographs or from sketches.  In fact, both may be true.

A Sturdy From The Royal Winnipeg Ballet by Raymond Rowley King

The first one is titled ‘A Study from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.’  Two male figures may be seen here that are of interest.  In the background near the window stood the Hungarian defector Attila Ficzere who later starred with San Francisco Ballet and who now teaches at the University of Utah Ballet Department.  In the foreground the central red-haired male is Eric Horenstein who went from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to do A Chorus Line and other Broadway musicals.

A Moment by Raymond Rowley King

The second entitled ‘A Moment’ shows us a woman (or perhaps Eric Horenstein once again) deep in thought with another woman looking on.  Is she (or he) facing some conflict or perhaps having a moment of creative realization?  Note the shadows on their arms as the light floods in from the window.

At the time of this writing, I have little information as to the ownership of these to works.  They appear to be the same size, roughly 9 inch by 12 inch which is amazing considering the purity of line and done on canvas.

Ruben Strommy

Consider the circumstance in which this painting was made in 1964.  Raymond was still incarcerated at Vacaville Medical Facility.  He had sold many paintings at the prison art sales which put money in his pockets so-to-speak.  He could buy the things that other prisoners wanted, typically cigarettes.  The guards hated him because he had earned so much money even though their union had forced the prison to put half of the proceeds of the art sales into their ‘widows and orphans’ fund.

Now comes Ruben Strommy, a rotund fellow prisoner and probably in need of cigarettes.  He agrees to pose nude for Ray, an activity for which jails do not permit much privacy.  Can we see any clues in this 51-1/2 inch by 52-1/2 painting, almost certainly done on Masonite.

Ruben Strommy by Raymond Rowley King

Discern, if you can, the expression on Ruben’s face.  Is that his expression or is it what Ray painted?  Does he seem suspicious of Ray’s motives or was he plotting seduction?  Was he pleased with the result?

Note also the chair in which Ruben is sitting.  Quite posh for a jail cell.  At first I thought that this might have been in the warden’s office, but have recently learned that there was a large room used as a studio that was open during the daytime.  Raymond was the only prisoner who had his own key to the studio.  About all that Ray did during his waking hours was either draw or paint.  Ruben was a homosexual, so he didn’t mind posing nude for another man.  A new detail has been passed on to me regarding this painting.  It is about Ruben’s right hand, the one that is raised up.  Something is dangling from it.  It is a chicken drumstick.

Two Nudes in Yaffa, Israel

The two nude studies were both done in 1966 when Ray was in Israel.  The first titled ‘Leah’ one is a fairly simple wash or stain technique which shows a good handling of paint to recreate an anatomy.  It is 29 inch by 46 inch and seems to have been done on canvas.


Leah by Raymond Rowley King

A Moment in Israel

 The second work titled A Moment in Israel is a bit ‘dark’ in its mood.  The work is 30 inch by 52 inch and appears to be on canvas also.  Here we have the woman seen in several ways.  The seated version shows here wringing a towel or piece of cloth as though in anguish over some problem or decision.  Her face is studied in a series of positions on the right side of the painting and we see the left arm in two or more positions.  She may also be wringing water from a towel after it has been cleansed.  It has been suggested by one viewer that this painting may involve the ritual purification known as Mikvah, used after childbirth or after of menstruation.  Among the Orthodox Jews, the community is required to construct a Mikvah for women even before the building of a synagogue and the waters for such rituals must obtain a certain degree of purity such as rainwater.

A Moment In Israel by Raymond Rowley King

This is but one of a series done with this model.

These works are presumed to be in private collections in Israel.  I have had communication from and individual who would be interested in purchasing The Monks, if it is ever offered up for sale.


Ray did have some fascination with unique houses and would spend long hours adding detail to their paintings.  In Amsterdam he has capture the unique feel of one of those tall buildings used for commercial ventures.  The storage area is on the upper floor and may reflect a concern over the potential for flooding.  A kind of davit protrudes from the front of the building to provide the ability to hoist goods up to the storage loft.

Amsterdam by Raymond Rowley King

This 24 inch by 52 inch oil painting appears to be of such a building converted to residential purposes.  The detail below shows the lower two floors and the occupants there-in.

Amsterdam by Raymond Rowley King detail

Light streams out of the window on the right side front window where the sidewalk rises to catch the light, which reflects off of the wet pavers.  There is light coming out of another window on the left side wall of the house, a window we cannot see directly except partially through the left front window.  However, we see the light upon the pavement and there is just enough light to reveal a figure, a person or possibly two, walking by protected by an umbrella.  These two people are hidden in shadows.  Ray and his wife could not be too open as to who they were or even that they existed at all because Ray had fled California while on parole and on advice from his own parole agent.  He had said to him, “Ray, if you stay here in this country, you’re going to get dirty again and I’ll have to bust you on a parole violation.”  So Ray fled the country … and went to The Netherlands where, of course, there is no heroin.

Through the second story windows we see, on the right, a brass bed with a white cover, on the left, someone watches the street and in the center we can see a portrait.  The third story, seen in the full view above, seems quite vacant while there is a light on in the fourth level.  A cobalt-umber-gray scumble represents a wisp of smoke emitting from the chimney and blown part way down the sharply peaked roof in a downdraft before continuing upward.

This work is said to be in a private collection in California.

Three works from 1964

Some guesswork takes over here.  The first work, titled Lincoln in Portland, seems a bit fanciful and may have been painted in the early month of 1964 in that there are more days of winter in the first part of the year than in the latter.  It may represent a melding of the personality of Ray’s grandfather with the notion of Abraham Lincoln.  The dimensions are 32 inches by 59 inches.  There is some indication that the work was begun in California and finished in Portland, Oregon.  I may soon have access to photos showing more detail including the long, knuckled hands, which may have been the last part finished on this piece.

Lincoln In Portland by Raymond Rowley King

Once released for prison, Ray found no difficulty in finding models for nude studies other than prison punks (effeminate homosexuals).  This 9 inch by 9 inch is titled Martha Long, R.N. and is said to have painted in the Spring of 1964.

Martha Long RN by Raymond Rowley King

This third work was perhaps done later in 1964 in Scotland.

The Man From Leith by Raymond Rowley King

Titled The Man From Leith, it is 51-1/2 inches by 52-1/2 inches.  The background indicates oil on Masonite as a medium however that material is usually available with a maximum width of 48 inches.  The dimensions may include the frame.

When Ray got to London, he bought a Porsche ragtop.  His preference, in the United States, had been a Cadillac convertible.  On a trip to Scotland (his recollection was of travelling over a red asphalt road), his Porsche was overtaken by a small Cooper, much to his surprise.  In spite of the incident with the Cooper, he enjoyed Scotland immensely.

Dance Stdio, San Francisco

Arriving too late to my office was an announcement of an auction in Edinburg, Scotland of a painting by our man of the hour, day, year, and decades.  It is a small (32x28cm) oil painting on board (probably the equivalent of Masonite), titled “Dance Studio, San Francisco“, and was said, by the auctioneers, to be dated 1967.  Blouin Art Info states that in 2007 this piece sold for $817.  Another source indicates that the price was $417.

Dance Studio - San Francisco by Raymond Rowley King

The following article may stand as a correction to that dating.


From the Glasgow Herald – December 14, 1964 (under Art Shows in Edinburg):

At the Crestline Gallery a feature has been made of the paintings of Raymond Rowley King. a Californian now living in Edinburgh.These, with their constant palette of the darker earth colours thinly brushed (this painter, as a technician and draughtsman, is both assured and able), comes as something of a relief after so much conscious brilliance (referring to other artworks on show).

But one is troubled by the extreme polarity visible in King’s work.It is difficult to understand how the man who painted “Highland Tapestry” for example (a bold abstract with more or less landscape connections), or even “The Man from Leith” with its broad treatment of realism, could conceive the little composition “The Dance Studio” so niggled and so fussy.

Seven New Pieces

New works came to my attention in January of 2007.  Untitled, a pencil drawing, possibly use of charcoal as well. Work was created approx Winter, 1971. Subject was a statuesque, redheaded Australian dancer, Louise Naughton … at the time, a soloist ballerina for Royal Winnipeg Ballet, by way of France and London.  Raymond Rowley King was in Winnipeg attempting to fabricate a Canadian passport for escape to Europe.
The one who supplied this image has knowledge of part of his process: He would loiter at hospital waiting rooms where visitors were anxious, stoic regarding health or surgeries of loved ones. Time to kill and given their stress, they would blather on regarding lifestyle and personal information. Ray would engage conversation extracting details, enough for an “alias”, should he be interviewed.  He also took photos of fellows he might reasonably resemble, yet they might be a Ukrainian wheat farmer in town from Moosejaw or Brandon, Manitoba.

Untitled drawing by Raymond Rowley King

Untitled pencil drawing by Raymond Rowley King    Created  in approximately  Winter, 1971.  Subject was David Eric Horenstein, (also red headed) dancer, Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Untitled by Raymond Rowley King


Diane, a work by Raymond Rowley King … a large oil on canvas with areas appearing to be under a coating of varnish or similar product.  My source believes that it was painted in mid the 1970’s in the San Francisco Bay area. Her broodingly beautiful, draped nudity glows amber much like her seductive red hair.  Hung with the figure at “a standing height”, the painting is at once captivating, fascinating, frightening, almost as though she appears out of the shadows, nowhere, glistening and glittering, a sensational, sexual haunt. Approx. size, 50″ x 60″

Diane by Raymond Rowley King

Diane by Raymond Rowley King detail

A sensational, sexual haunt.

8th Street, NYC

Raymond painted in oil on canvas, framed in a primitive manner.  Approximately 1969 and approx 24″ square.

8th Street, NYC by Raymond Rowley King


 Oil on canvas, approximately 9″ x 9″ framed
Titled, signed in pencil on the back, also the designation, California. Unfortunately I cannot remember anything further regarding identification. (I hope this was not my imagining)

Frenchman by Raymond Rowley King

 An Autumn Love Story

This oil on Masonite(?) piece is photographed sitting in a bent wood chair, approx 6 ”  diameter oval. I apologize that I cannot furnish more accurate information, I am working from photos only, and memory is sketchy (pardon the pun)
Will not attempt any further inaccuracies regarding time or place, but hope you will be able to enjoy these recoveries.

An Autumn Love Story by Raymond Rowley King

A detail from above piece.

An Autumn Love Story by Raymond Rowley King detail

A View of Elspeth

Word of a large painting has reached me.  It is titled as above and measures approximately 50″ by 50″.  The left half of the painting is described as a steeply terraced gathering of Victorian architecture.  The right half is somewhat more vague and misty as though things had deteriorated quite a bit.  The painting may be in the Portland, Oregon area as it was sold during the 1970s through the Clothes Horse Gallery in that city.  I would greatly appreciate a photograph or JPEG of this painting for posting on this page.

Today, September 14, 2007, I received an image from a magazine of the work in question.  It appears to have been sold by the Clothes Horse Gallery sometime in the middle 1970s.

View of Elspeth by Raymond Rowley King

Three Untitled Etchings

These three pieces are from a private collection.  They are described as etchings having dimensions of 5″ by 7″ and are untitled.

Untitled Private by Raymond Rowley King

Untitled by Raymond Rowley King

This work above seems to be a study for the painting called Amsterdam.

Untitled by Raymond Rowley King

Four Kings In Israel

I have received images of four paintings by Raymond Rowley King. which are currently in Israel.  These were purchased by the parents of the woman who currently owns them.


The first one is titled Gillette.  We see a visual joke in that someone is about to be guillotined, presumably by a razor sharp blade.

Gillette by Raymond Rowley King

The text reads, ‘A new novel by Raymond Rowley King.’  Ray was not a writer to my knowledge.  It was painted in 1976, a year after the delicate Head Turning (http://www.opendiary.com/entryview.asp?authorcode=D661851&entry=10023&mode=), and after Five Sisters (http://www.opendiary.com/entryview.asp?authorcode=D661851&entry=10005&mode=) and The Monks (http://www.opendiary.com/entryview.asp?authorcode=D661851&entry=10017&mode=).  Note the style of hats being worn by the attendees.  This painting measures 32 1/2″ wide by 44 1/4″ high.  Raymond painted several works that appeared to be pictures of books written by him … some even had “price stickers” as part of the composition.

The Governess

The second painting is titled The Governess.  Painted in 1974, it fits in with an almost Victorian motif in her dress and posture, which is sometimes referred to as Grecian Bender with the upper half of the body held forward with the rear end seeming to trail behind.  I had a high history school teacher who was a Grecian Bender.  Either that or she was deformed.

Governess by Raymond Rowley King

For some reason, this image of The Governess has been copied and become quite popular on the Internet. In that way it fits the era depicted in Gillette.  This piece is 50 1/2″ high and 28 1/2″ wide.

A Studio Corner

This third work depicts what I suppose is a model taking a break to read.

Studio Corner by Raymond Rowley King

The model’s name was Tess Gildea.  The work measures 26 1/2″ high by 26 1/4″ wide and was done in 1977.


The last of the four is untitled and undated.

Untitled by Raymond Rowley King

It is a rather cheerful piece for such a rainy day and the architecture suggests Holland to me though it could well be San Francisco (in the mind of the artist).  The painting measures 35 1/4″ in height and 25 1/2″ in width.  That all four were sold to the same people in Israel at roughly the same time seems to indicate that it too was painted in the mid 1970s and that all were painted in Israel.

Figure Study in Silver

This painting was done in New York City in the Winter of 1970.

Study in Silver of 2nd Wife

It is approximately 22-3/4″ in diameter done in oil on Masonite.  The frame consists of wood and cloth.

The subject matter is a young woman lying casually on a bed enjoying a cup of coffee.  Though little is know as to the name of the woman or her relationship to Ray, it appears that they may have been closer than mere artist and model.

This is Ray’s signature on the painting:

This is the back side of the framed painting:

Study in Silver by Raymond Rowley King backside

This work originally was hanging in the Clothes Horse Gallery in Portland, Oregon.  If anyone can supply further information about the location and duration of the gallery, please send it to collectedartworks AT hotmail.com

From a private collection in Oregon.  I do have communication from an individual who is interested in purchasing this particular work.

Jennie In A Blanket

The size and medium for this painting are unknown to me as yet.  It would have been painted in the mid 1960s.

Jennie In A Blanket by Raymond Rowley King

In slightly greater detail …

Jennie In A Blanket by Raymond Rowley King detail 01

And with closest detail …

Jennie In A Blanket by Raymond Rowley King detail 03

This work is believed to be in a private collection in Northern California.  From the pallette knife marks on the surface, I am guessing that it was painted on tempered Masonite.

A Poem of Staifa

Painted in København, Denmark on October 25, 1967.

A Poem of Staifa by Raymond Rowley King

It is uncertain as to whether or not Staifa refers to “St. Anselm’s International Friendship Association.”¹  One is tempted to believe that Staifa was the name of a kibbutz.  It appears to be a picture of a man (on right) and a woman.  The long black hair on each may indicate Japanese heritage, which would coincide with the STAIFA ¹

The painting is done in oil on Masonite and is 15″W x 16″W.  A lacquer finish has been applied, which makes it tricky to photograph directly.

From a private collection in Oregon.

Red and White

Red and White by Raymond Rowley King

An additional work has emerged titled, Red and White”.  Painted in New York in 1970, it measures 44” x 20”.  There does seem to be a connection in mood with “Leah” and with A Moment in Israel, both done in 1966.  It was purchase through a gallery in California in 1974.

There Once Were Four Mades

This piece was painted in Tel Aviv in 1971.  I find it at once humorous and mysterious.  The person who supplied the images to me thought that Ray had made an error in spelling.  I would like for him to contact me again at collectedartworks_@_hotmail_._com so that I can ask for more details.  In particular, I would like a close-up of what is on the platter.  The may also be some interesting details outside through the window on the left.

There Once Were Four Mades by Raymond Rowley King

And on the reverse side:

The work is in a private collection in Israel.

Self Portrait

The same person who emailed me the image of the lower half of Saturday Noon also sent along images of two works that were new to me.  Though the dimensions were not included, the first is more or less round in shape set in a square frame and is of a man with kind of wild hair and a mustache.  He is wearing a top hat and a t-shirt.  The top hat belonged to Raymond’s grandfather.  It is, in fact, a self-portrait and its dimensions a roughly 12″ x 12″.  No ionformation is available as to when it was painted or where it is now.

Man With Top Hat by Raymond Rowley King

Only a black and white image is available to me at this time.

Bust of Negroe Male

The second work is of a man’s head and has the appearance of being a ‘bust.’

Bust of Negroe Man by Raymond Rowley King

 I shall refer to it as Bust of Negroe Man, until further clarification.  This was painted before 1964, probably at Vacaville.  Ownership unknown.   Here is a detail of the head.

Bust of Negroe Man by Raymond Rowley King (detail)

Nude from Behind

 Also offered recently is an oil painting measuring 11.5 inches by 11.2 inches.  The summary titles is Nude from Behind.

Nude from Behind by Raymond Rowley King

It appears that the work is signed on the left side.  The hardwood frame is something of a Raymond King signature in itself.


This is a painting titled Sister-in-Law.

Sister in Law by Raymond Rowley King

This piece is of similar dimensions … 12 inches by 11.4 inches.  A closer detail …

Sister in Law by Raymond Rowley King detail

Considering the size of the painting, this is an amazing rendering.


Another Raymond King painting is titled Leah.  The unusual frame makes it seem, at first glance, to be the cover of an old book.

Leah by Raymond Rowley King


In a closer detail of the profile head, we see the signature and the date, 1976.

Leah by Raymond Rowley King detail of profile head showing signature and date

An additional close-up view:

Leah by Raymond Rowley King close-up detail

And a view of the reverse side:

Leah by Raymond Rowley King reverse side


The negative space in the pieces show Ray’s typical use of oil paint as a staining medium.

A fairly complete documentation of these works may be found at http://www.opendiary.com/entrylist.asp?authorcode=D661851  At that site, the entries are divided in to pages, rather than on an extended scroll.

Letter To Carolyn Wong

Some new images of works by King have emerged.  They may originally have been sold through That Gallery, which was connected to the Clotheshorse in Portland.

Letter to Carolyn Wong by RRK 02 9 inch

The title this one is a bit of a pun … Letter To Carolyn Wong.  

California Landscape is from about the same time as Letter to Carolyn Wong

California Landscape by Raymond Rowley King

California Landscape by Raymond Rowley King

At about the same time Marin County appeared.

Marin County by Raymond Rowley King

Marin County by Raymond Rowley King

So, also, did Sorcerers Apprentice appear.

Sorcerers Apprentice by Raymond Rowley King

Sorcerers Apprentice by Raymond Rowley King

An unusual work is also a part of that era … it fits in to the corner of a room, and is untitled.

Title Unknown by RRK

Title Unknown by RRK

From a collection in Northern California comes a number of works obtained by someone who had work with Ray in the prison system, both at Vacaville Medical Facility, and at San Quentin.  It is said that the collector, an assistant warden, took Ray outside the walls of the prison (in his custody) and took him around to several art galleries in the San Francisco Bay Area.



  1. Hi– I just bought a large painting of 3 jazz musicians, signed Rowley King. It is in the style of the painting of the large black bird which I saw on your website. I would be happy to send you a photograph of it. You make no mention of the artist signing his name this way without the “Raymond” included, I’m curious about that. I bought it at an estate sale in Brentwood (Los Angeles) California and there were two other King paintings there, smaller ones. I had never heard of this artist so I was happy to find your website.

  2. Hy i new ray in edinburgh he painted me for that exibishn we we’re
    Close i never forgot him or her…

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