October 10, 2017

interior of carthage jail cca

C. C. A. Christensen (1831-1912), Interior of Carthage Jail, c.1878, tempera on muslin, 78 x 120 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of the grandchildren of C. C A. Christensen.

John Taylor was sustained as the third president of the LDS Church on October 10, 1880. This painting, from C. C. A. Christensen’s Mormon Panorama series, shows Joseph’s radiant form commanding the stage-like scene. Dressed in white as a symbol of his innocence, the Prophet holds a pistol intended for defense while Hyrum lies slain on the floor. John Taylor, wounded in the melee, clubs down musket barrels, as a stout Willard Richards wields a cane to the right of the door. The painted caption emphasizes the martyrdom as a turning point in the Church’s history. Rather than destroying the Latter-day Saints’ faith, as detractors had hoped, Joseph and Hyrum’s death galvanized their commitment, just as Christensen hoped his panorama series would reinforce Latter-day Saints’ devotion in his day.

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