Artwork of the Week: December 29, 2019
Lee Greene Richards (1878- 1950), New Year’s Eve 1862 – Old Salt Lake Theater, 1926, oil on canvas, 48 1/8 x 96 ½ inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1938.
The Old Salt Lake Theater was the only—and for some years the largest—playhouse west of New York City. Commissioned by Brigham Young after recognizing that the Saints “must have amusement as well as religion”, the Salt Lake Theater enjoyed a central place in the community until the curtain fell for the last time on October 20, 1928.
Richard’s painting imagines a New Year’s Eve performance shortly after the theater was completed. The warm interior glow of candlelight spills out from welcoming doorways into the snowy evening. From all directions, bundled figures make their way towards the Greek Revival style theater in anticipation of a reprieve from their daily labors.