After Liberty

Early in the morning on April 22, 1839, a ferry boat docked in Quincy, Illinois.  Thousands of Latter-day Saints had taken refuge in the tiny town of Quincy after being exterminated from the state of Missouri.  A former Latter-day Saint, Dimick Huntington, rode down to the Quincy dock to see who had just arrived.  As people disembarked the ferry, a certain ragged looking man in a rim sopped black hat caught Dimick’s attention.  As Dimick got closer, the man raised up his head, and Dimick exclaimed, “My God, is it you Brother Joseph?”  After months in prison at Liberty Jail and being separated from the Saints, suddenly the Prophet was standing incognito on the east banks of the Mississippi River on the Quincy shore.

Dimick gave a detailed description of Joseph after Liberty when he arrived in Quincy.  The description is rich and vivid. Dimick remembered that Joseph “was dressed in an old pair of boots, full of holes.  Pants torn [and] tucked inside of boots.” He wore a “blue cloak with collar turned up, wide brim black hat, rim sopped down.” He said that Joseph “had not been shaved for some time” and then carat inserted ^ that Joseph “looked pale and haggard.”

When Joseph Smith emerged from Liberty Jail, he may have looked haggard and pale, but he surely wasn’t defeated.  Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Joseph would lead the Saints to gather again near Commerce, Illinois, and rename it Nauvoo, the beautiful.  There he would reach the zenith of his personal, political, and prophetic powers.  There he would reveal some of his most daring and daunting doctrines, such as the redemption of the dead, a Heavenly Mother, God once being a man, eternal marriage, and plural marriage. After Liberty, Joseph seemed more determined than ever to move forward the work which God had called and revealed to him, no matter the consequences.  I had to paint him, symbolizing these ideas and looking as Dimick described him, after Liberty.

This original painting was created for my Repicturing the Restoration project published in 2020 by BYU’s Religious Studies Center & Deseret Book. 

“After Liberty” 20×14 oil on board, 2019 (comes in a 2.5″ brown rustic frame, 25×19)



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