We are going to enlighten you more on the new paintings found in the Sacred Grove and Smith Farm in Palmyra, New York. These recent months there have been four new paintings recently commissioned by the Church.
The paintings depict four key Restoration events that took place on the site and are displayed in a new exhibit in the Welcome Center, to the right of the panoramic window offering an expansive view of the Smith farm. They were installed in March 2020, shortly after Church historic sites closed due to the pandemic
“Other than those of us working at the site, missionaries and a few staff people here, nobody has really seen those yet except for the tens of thousands of people that have seen them virtually,” said President Terry J. Spallino of New York and Pennsylvania Historic Sites, adding that virtual visitors have come from more than 60 countries.
Aaron West, the historian and writer in the Church History Department’s Historic Sites Division said, “These paintings are there to orient people to the spiritual significance of events that occurred on this site.”
“Our hope is that these works of art will prime people for immersive learning experiences in those sacred places. And we’re seeing now that that can happen in person and virtually.”
Let See the paintings
The paintings illustrate four events: Joseph Smith’s First Vision (1820), the angel Moroni’s first visit (1823), bringing the plates home from the Hill Cumorah (1827), and returning the plates to the angel Moroni (1829).
To the left of the paintings is a panel that reads “The Lord said, … behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work (Isaiah 29:13-14).”
Referencing the First Vision scene, he said, “Whenever I look at that painting, my eye always goes to Jesus Christ. When I look at Joseph, I follow his gaze to the Savior. When I look at the Father, I see Him pointing to the Savior. Even the landscape in that painting draws my attention to Jesus Christ.
The unfolding Restoration” between 1820-1829. “We also see the growth of Joseph Smith and his family. We see him growing from a 14-year-old boy to a man who is becoming a Prophet. And from a 17-year-old, who was seeing Moroni for the first time, to a few years later when he and Moroni have a relationship.”
The painting of Joseph Smith bringing home the gold plates from the Hill Cumorah portrays the involvement of his family, West said. His sister Katharine is shown helping Joseph place the plates on the table, while his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, is at her side. His wife, Emma, is supporting him.
Having completed the translation of the Book of Mormon and shown the gold plates to eight witnesses, Joseph Smith returns the plates to the angel Moroni. In this final scene, West said the artists did “a remarkable job of capturing the joy that Joseph and Moroni must have felt at the completion of that part of their stewardship.”
Another new exhibit in the Sacred Grove Welcome Center featuring artifacts excavated from the site is expected to be finished later this year.
To sign up for a virtual tour of the Sacred Grove and Smith Farm, click here.