- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A businessman is trying to find a permanent home for a 6-ton painting of the Battle of Gettysburg that rarely has been exhibited in recent years because of its immense size.

The painting, known as a cyclorama because it provides a 360-degree view of a scene when mounted in a cylinder, was one of four created by French artist Paul Philippoteaux in the 1880s. One cyclorama is on display in Gettysburg, and two others were lost.

The artist went to the battle site, interviewed veterans and took panoramic pictures of the terrain. The painting was done on 14 panels, which were later joined to measure 376 feet long, and was roughly the height of a five-story building. What remains today is considerably smaller — 365 feet long and 27 feet high.

The painting was shown at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933 but was lost afterward. A North Carolina artist, Joe King, found it behind a wall in a Chicago warehouse in 1965, then spent the next 30 years unsuccessfully trying to find a home for it. He left the painting to Wake Forest University in 1996 when he died.

Now the mission has become that of businessman Ken Wilson, Mr. King’s friend. Mr. Wilson said he could see the cyclorama becoming part of a museum display, traveling exhibit or theme park attraction.

He said it would cost up to $8 million to restore the painting, which was appraised at $2.5 million 10 years ago. He estimated it would cost up to $10 million to build a circular building to properly display the painting and maintain it.

Some potential buyers have wanted to chop the painting into smaller pieces for resale, but Wake Forest wants to keep it intact.

Mr. Wilson said it was “absolutely phenomenal” when he saw the panels rolled out for the first time in 1999.

“It left you feeling as if you had been at the Battle of Gettysburg,” he said.

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