Art Work

                                      William Warner Major

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Jill C. Major, Author

England 

1. Rachel Burgess Francess (spelled "Francis" in the family records on familysearch.org),  ca. 1844

Rachel Burgess Francis (1768-1850)

Location: Private ownership (Owned by Frank and Gwen Wilcox in 1965.)

Photograph from Pioneers of Utah Art, (Logan: Kaysville Art Club, 1968),1.

Description: watercolor 7" X 5 1/2"

There is no known history for this painting, but it appears to be a W.W. Major painting with a book painted in tiny hands.   I place it tentatively in the London era because Rachel Burgess Francess never emigrated to America.  She died in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England in 1850 (family records, familysearch.org). A daughter, Eunice Francis Neslen,  joined the Church about 1852, but arrived in Salt Lake in Sept 1853 ( Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah).  W.W. Major left on a mission to England in June 1853 (Jesse Bigler Martin Journal).  They never met.  There is one possibility. A daughter, Mary Ann Francis, died in London in May 1844 (family records, familysearch.org).   If mother and daughter went to London and had some connection to the Church, W.W. Major may have painted the portrait then.

Another possibility is the portrait is not of Rachel Burgess Francess but some other pioneer.  In that case, I would date it to the Utah period (1848-1853) because it is a watercolor and Major created at least five watercolors in the Utah Area.  Two are about the same size as this portrait. There are no known watercolors created in Nauvoo.

 

 

Nauvoo art in museums and private collections

1. Joseph Smith with Church leaders in Nauvoo. (Summer or fall 1845)  Picture: Joseph Smith and the Church Leaders in Nauvoo

Location: Museum of Church History and Art, Salt Lake, Utah

Description: Oil on canvas, 23 ½ x 31 ½" (59.7 cm x 80 cm) "Joseph Smith stands while he is surrounded with the seated figures (from left to right) of his brother Hyrum and Willard Richards, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Hyde, Heber C. Kimball, and Brigham Young. Besides the Smith brothers, these men included most of the leading General authorities of the Church who came west to Utah after the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo."1

The picture identified as Orson Pratt, sitting on the right side of Joseph Smith was added some time after the picture was completed.2

 

2. Seal of the Apostles (ca. 1845)

Location: Church Collection3

Description: A circle with a sun inside. Around the sun are the capital letters

P S T A P C J C L D S L D A O W which means "Private Seal of the Twelve Apostles, Priests of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Last Dispensation All Over the World." In the center is the all-seeing eye with a crown over it.

History: John Taylor's journal states, "Thursday, January 23rd, 1845. In company with Bros. [George A.] Smith, Hyde, and Major, at the engravers and helped Bro. Major to draw a design for a seal for the Twelve, designed by Bro. Young and myself."4

The seal was used to imprint official church documents. The Epistle to the Saints, dated January 14, 1845, states, "And as the churches abroad have been much imposed upon by designing men, without authority, we would warn them against such persons, and advise them not to pay their funds to traveling elders and others without a written authority from us to which shall be attached the private seal of the Twelve and their names published as above stated."5

This seal served another interesting function. Robert Lang Campbell used this seal in Salt Lake. "During the winter of 1848-49 he is recorded as being engaged in writing out one dollar bills for use by the Saints in their new home and in impressing the bills with the seal of the Twelve Apostles."6

 

3. Brigham Young's family7 (Summer 1845-1846)

Location: MCHA

Description: Oil on board, 25" X 33" (63.5 cm x 83.8 cm)

This painting was started in Nauvoo8 and it has been suggested that it was completed in Salt Lake City in 1851.9 The artist’s signature, on the table to the left of Brigham Young, reads "W.W. MAJOR 46 ARTIST." The "46" is small, smudged and difficult to read, so may actually be another number. It is certain the number refers to a date, because the few pieces of art work signed by Major, are also dated. In 1846 the Major family was in Nauvoo until July 23,10 then at Winter Quarters after October 22.11

Richard Oman and Robert Davis offered this explanation of the portrait: "The painting depicts Brigham Young, his wife Mary Ann Angell, and their six children. The children from left to right are Luna Caroline, Joseph Angell, Brigham Jr., Mary Ann, Alice, and John Willard. Mary Ann, standing behind the table, died two years before this painting was begun. Her twin brother, Brigham, hands her a white rose, perhaps symbolizing her youth and purity at death. In the nineteenth century deceased family members were commonly included in family portraits. The Latter-day Saint belief that family ties continue beyond the grave enhances the significance of the piece. Although Brigham Young never lived in the palatial country estate setting depicted here, the artist has included exaggeration to show honor, as was common in British art of the nineteenth century. This was Major’s way of expressing his respect for the Church President and his family. The painting, one of Major’s finest, was begun in Nauvoo and completed in Salt Lake City."12

Provenance: (dates of transfer presumed from death dates): Brigham and Mary Ann Angell Young, 1851-1877; Mary Ann Angell Young, 1877-82; Luna Eunice Caroline Young Thatcher, 1882-1922, unknown family member to 1961; Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1961-present.

4. Jennetta Richards Richards (Wife of Willard Richards.)13 (Summer 1845) Jennetta Richards Richards 1845

Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum

Description:

History: William W. Major began Jennetta's portrait in 1845, but she died before it was completed. These entries in Willard Richard's Journal give added insight: "21 July, ...went into the 70's Hall to see the paintings. Rhoda Ann [22 month old daughter of Richards] pointed out Mother's profile though not 1/2 finished."

"28 July, Went to 70's Hall to see profile/ to sit for painting by Major."

"13 Aug 4:p.m...went to 70's Hall with Ann [Fox, polygamist wife of Richards], Rhoda Ann and Sarah Langstroth [polygamist wife of Richards] where Ann sitting for Major to paint rings and Book of Mormon for Jennetta..."

It is with regard to this painting that we learn the wages of an artist in 1845: "Saturday, Sept 20, 1845...called on Sister Kimball and Whitney to see her to 70's Hall to see the finishing Jennetta's painting / on to ? to pay Major 1.50 cts."14

5. 6. Sarah D. Rich and Charles Coulson Rich (Before December 1845) Sarah Pea Rich ca.1845

Charles Coulson Rich ca.1845

Description:

Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum. 

History: These portraits were displayed in the Nauvoo Temple.16

History: Heber C. Kimball mentioned in his diary on "Sartaday the 6 [December 1845] The weather More Mild...Returned back to the Temple, put up the Looking glasses, and Maps and potrats. As William W. Majors brought som up from his chop [shop] to Adorn our room." Two days later Kimball records, "Monday the 8...went to the Temple, Found G. A. Smith, Br. Wick, Br. Magor, Chars Rich, David Candel. This was 10 Oclock [a.m.]. We commenced putting up Potrates."17

7. Joseph and Jane Bicknill Young Location: Daugthers of the Utah Pioneers Museum.  ca. 1845

Joseph Young and Jane Adeline Bicknell Young ca.1845

Description:  formal evening dress.  Joseph is standing next to his wife, who is seated.  The red and greed vetical strokes applied by the artist for floor covering is remarkably similar to the floor pictured in the Joseph and prominent leaders painting which William probably completed in Nauvoo.  Joseph Young was the brother of President Brigham Young.

 

 

Nauvoo Art Destroyed

1. Mural of scenes of Church History (Spring-Fall 1845)

History: Robert Campbell was commissioned by Philo Dibble to do the drawings for two murals. William W. Major and others helped to paint them.

a) The murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith while under arrest. (Spring 1845)

The Diary of Hosea Stout records this entry on March 7, 1845, Friday: "In the morning went to Turley's to get a pistol repaired from thence went with Br. Scovil to the Mansion then to see Br Major who was painting the scenery of the murder of Joseph & Hyrum at Carthage..."18 The Journal History records, "4 April 1845, Brother Wm. W. Major exhibited a painting of the assassination of Joseph and Hyrum Smith by the mob at Carthage." Just before she left Nauvoo for Winter Quarters, Patty Bartlett Sessions penned in her "day book" on 11 February 1846: "...in the evening went to the [Seventies] Hall to see the scenery of the massacre of Joseph and Hyrum Smith."19

b) Joseph addressing the Nauvoo Legion three days prior to his imprisonment in Carthage jail(September 1845).20 

History: Concerning the Nauvoo Legion Painting, Hosea Stout wrote on September 8th 1845, "...at 5 met some officers of the Legion at Coolidges' to see about the painting of the scenery of Joseph the Prophet addressing the Nauvoo Legion on the 18th day of June 1844. The officers were dissatisfied with the plan for Br. Dibble was about to put in the likeness of officers who were not present and also some men who were to be put in conspicuous places on the scenery who were not officers and moreover betrayed the prophet and patriarch to death and also other men who had disgraced their calling as officers to all of these things I made objections and declared I would not be seen portrayed in a group of such men for it would be a disgrace to my children and roughly handled the characters of certain characters in our midst which after the matter was laid over for future consideration."21

Description of both paintings: painted on canvas, 128 square-feet. A letter from Dibble makes it sound like it is 128 feet long, but according to Glen Leonard, "...it is 128 feet square. This is proven by the watercolor study of Joseph addressing the Nauvoo Legion which has pencil hatch marks around the edge which are in proportions that would create a 128 square-foot painting if enlarged."22

Location: These paintings were exhibited in Nauvoo, Winter Quarters and Utah. Philo Dibble owned them, but he stored them under his bed in a log home and they were damaged by water. Later Dibble displayed lantern slides of the two paintings and a third painting of the Mormon Battalion's Battle of the Bulls, probably painted by Dan Weggeland.23 A small sketch of "Joseph addressing the Nauvoo Legion" which was painted by Robert Campbell, was used to make the murals. It is hanging in the Church Museum of History and Art.

Nauvoo art, location unknown

1. Heber C. Kimball family (Summer 1845)

Location: Unknown

History: Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, daughter of Heber C. Kimball and Vilate Murray wrote that the family sat for a portrait by "Brother Major from England, who commenced in the summer of 1845 to paint our family group. It was upon a large canvas tastefully arranged -- my father and mother sitting with baby in the center, --my self at her side and my brother William with his wife and little daughter on the left, and four younger brothers made up the family group...one of the same size, with President B. Young and family was begun at the same time." The painting was never competed.24 after which the matter was laid over for future consideration."25

Description of both paintings: painted on canvas, 128 square-feet. A letter from Dibble makes it sound like it is 128 feet long, but according to Glen Leonard, "...it is 128 feet square. This is proven by the watercolor study of Joseph addressing the Nauvoo Legion which has pencil hatch marks around the edge which are in proportions that would create a 128 square-foot painting if enlarged."26

Location: These paintings were exhibited in Nauvoo, Winter Quarters and Utah. Philo Dibble owned them, but he stored them under his bed in a log home and they were damaged by water. Later Dibble displayed lantern slides of the two paintings and a third painting of the Mormon Battalion's Battle of the Bulls, probably painted by Dan Weggeland.27 A small sketch of "Joseph addressing the Nauvoo Legion" which was painted by Robert Campbell, was used to make the murals. It is hanging in the Church Museum of History and Art.

 2. Willard Richards29 (Summer 1845)

Location: unknown

History: Willard Richards’s 1845 journal, "Monday Sept 8 Went to 70's Hall. Geo [A. Smith] went on. I staid for Majer to fix my face in painting..." It’s possible that Major was working on the group picture of Joseph Smith and other prominent leaders in Nauvoo. Willard Richards’s was included in this portrait (see figure ?) However, since Major was working on portraits of other couples for the Nauvoo temple, this may also refer to a full-size portrait.

3. John Taylor (January - July 1845)

Location: unknown

John Taylor mentions meeting with William Major in his Nauvoo diary on 16, 18 January, 7 February, 17 July, 6 August 1845.30 On Jan. 18 Elder Taylor first writes about sitting for the portrait: "In the afternoon at Bro. Major's having my likeness taken." On July 17th, "Forenoon at Bro. Major's having my portrait taken."

Since Major was employed by the Church and engaged, among other assignments, in painting the Apostles and their wives for the Nauvoo temple, it is possible that the portrait of John Taylor and a corresponding portrait of Leonora A. Taylor (which William Clayton mentions in his diary as hanging in the Nauvoo temple), were works by William Major.31 It is interesting to note that John Taylor was not included in Major’s painting of Joseph Smith and other leaders 32

 

4. Children of Willard and Jennetta Richards (January 1846)

Location: unknown:

History: Willard Richards wrote, "Wednesday January 21, 1846 bro Major in the office painting my children."33

5. Dr. A.S. Green

Location: unknown

History: Brigham Young recorded, "Dr. A.S. Green set for a sketch by Bros Major, Campbell."34 It is probable that this sketch was for one of the murals that Major and Campbell collaborated on in Nauvoo. Since Brigham Young used punctuation sparingly, another possible meaning of this journal entry is that Brigham Young received a visit from Dr. A.S. Green, then later Brigham Young posed for his portrait. He was known to pose for Major at least for two paintings in Nauvoo.

 

Winter Quarters art, location unknown

1. Sketch of Captain Caw, Otoe Indian Chief, 10 May 1847

Location: unknown

History: Hosea Stout wrote, "Capt. Caw went with Br. Major who took his likeness [sketched his picture], which amused the rest very much when they saw it. They would laugh and say "Capt Caw."

35

2. Portrait of Hosea Stout, 10 December 1847

Location: unknown

History: Hosea Stout recorded, "Sunday Dec. 5th 1847. Went to council. Nothing of any importance up today. Major the painter took a pull at me for my likeness today..." Then on Friday, Dec. 10th 1847 Stout wrote, "Major took another pull at my likeness again today."36

3. Portrait of First Presidency and Twelve Apostles sitting in council, spring 1847

Location: unknown.

History:

Wilford Woodruff remarked that on April 1, 1847 he, "set for A Portrait to be taken by Major[ ]to be put in a work with others of the Twelve."37 This painting was apparently never finished. Helen Mar Whitney, daughter of Heber C. Kimball, remembered seeing a group painting at the home of Sister [Brigham] Young previous to her death. It was composed of "the First Presidency, B. Young, H.C. Kimball and W. Richards, and the Twelve Apostles sitting in council." Whitney mentions the painting "was hanging there in the same unfinished state" as the Kimball family portrait. Apparently, Major died before he could complete them.38

4. Portrait of Patty Bartlett Sessions, 26 April 1847

Location: unknown

History:

Patty Sessions wrote that she "went to severl places Br. Mager is taking our portraits." Major may have been sketching Patty Sessions and her husband, David.39

____________________

Robert Lang Campbell visited the Major’s at Winter Quarters in the Spring of 1847 where he "saw some beautiful landscapes, also several profiles."

40 This brief journal entry alerts us to carefully scrutinize landscapes of England, Nauvoo, Nebraska, and/or Winter Quarters which may be housed in museums or private collections. If currently the artist is unknown, it would be well to compare them with Major's other work. This may also refer to prints of famous paintings which William Warner Major was known to possess.41

 

1848 Mormon Trail sketches, location unknown

William Major probably carried a sketch book while trekking west as he did in his 1852 trip to the settlements of Utah. Thomas Bullock, who traveled with William Major, made the following notations about Major’s art activities:

1. "Thursday, August 10...Wm. W. Major and Thomas Bullock ascended to the top of Prospect Hill [Wyoming], where Brother Major took a sketch of the country..."

Location: unknown.

2. "Monday, August 21...I also went with Wm. W. Major to take a sketch of a canyon west of our camp." This was near the Sweetwater River, in Wyoming.

Location: unknown

3. "Wednesday, August 23...ascending the hill we had a fine view of Upper California, Old Mexico, New Mexico, Indian country, Missouri territory and Oregon, which Wm W. Major

had made a drawing of." (This was near South Pass, in southwest Wyoming.42

Location: unknown

 

Utah art in museums and private collects

1. Lieutenant-general Brigham Young dressed in his Utah Legion Uniform, ca. 1850. Brigham Young in Military Uniform ca. 1850

Description:

Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum.

History:

2. Brigham Young Brigham Young, Governor ca.1853

Description:

Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum

History:

3. Sketch of Salt Lake, 1852 

Location: LDS Church Collection

Description: A lithograph printed in St. Louis in 1852.

Provenance: Printed in the Improvement Era in 1936: "Salt Lake City, 1852.—This reproduction of a sketch by W. W. Major discovered and purchased by the Church Historian's office is probably the earliest sketch of the city now in existence. The probable influence of the plat of Zion City is shown in the layout of streets and houses. Prior to this, the earliest Salt Lake City picture in the historian's office was dated

4. Kono’sa c1848-1853 (41-72-10/426) Kono'sa - Peabody Museum

Medium:  watercolor on paper

Dimensions:  28.1 cm x 20 cm (11 1/6" x 7 7/8"), Accurate

Owner: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Since William Major departed from his mission to England from New York in 1853, it is likely he sold the paintings for goods or money to live and travel.

5. Owanup c. 1848-1853) (41-72-10/425)  Owanup, Peabody Museum

Medium:  Watercolor on paper

Dimensions:  18.8cm x 12.4 cm (7 3/8" x 4 7/8'), Sight

Owner: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Since William Major departed from his mission to England from New York in 1853, it is likely he sold the paintings for goods or money to live and travel.

6. Walker c1852 (41-72-10/427)  Chief Walker

Medium:  Watercolor on paper

Dimensions 27.2cm x 24.3 cm (10 11/16" X 9 9/16") accurate.

Owner: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

This portrait was used to create a sketch in conjunction with Arapeen and reproduced in Frederick Hawkins Piercy's book, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley. Since Piercy entered the Salt Lake Valley after Major had left it, they apparently met on the trail when Major was returning to England on his mission in 1853.   Since William Major departed from his mission to England from New York, it is likely he sold the paintings for goods or money to live and travel. 

 

 

Utah art, location Unknown

1. Arapeen and Joseph Walker  1854 Deseret News Article advertising Route From Liverpool

Location: Arapeen unknown; Joseph Walker, see above

Description: Portraits of the Ute Indians, Chief Joseph Walker and his brother Arapeen.

History: A sketch was made by Frederick Hawkins Piercy from the original pictures which were then in the possession of W.W. Major. This drawing was published in Piercy’s book, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley, with this explanation: "The late Joseph Walker, one of the leading chiefs of the Utahs, was generally very friendly to the L.D. Saints, and so also is Arapeen, his successor. We here introduce their portraits sketched from a painting in possession of the late Elder W.W. Major."44

 

2. University of Deseret Seal

Location: unknown

History: The University of Deseret was organized on February 28, 1850. "Albert Carrington served as a regent; and his friend, W.W. Major, was asked to design the university seal."45

3. Architectural Sketch of Council House, Salt Lake

Location: Unknown

History: "For the first public building to be planned, the Council House, a Brother Major (probably William Major, an artist from England) prepared and presented a design. President Young consulted his brother-in-law about the plan. ‘Being asked how I liked it,’ Angell later wrote, ‘I said that it did not please me, considering the newness of the country and our material.’ President Young apparently concurred and asked Angell to prepare an alternate design. With the acceptance of the scheme, Truman Angell found himself the Architect of Public Works for the new city. At President Young's request, he devoted all of his energies to making designs and plans and supervising construction, rather than trying to become established on his own farm."46

 

 4. Precinda Kimball, 1850.  Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum Precinda Kimball 1850

Description:  Death picture of small child holding roses.  Painting is in a closet of DUPM and has never been stretched.  It is in critical need of repair.

5. Parley P. Pratt family group

Brooks, On the Mormon Frontier, 393. "Tuesday 18th Feb. 1851 ...Went to see Major painting Parley’s family group which looked splendid. It consisted of 7 wives & children." This painting was hanging on the wall of the Pratt home in Salt Lake City in February 1853, and was described by Mrs. Benjamin Ferris. After spending a night in the company of the Pratts and Eliza R. Snow, she wrote, "...as we got up to go...I turned to the wall to look at a garish-looking daub, intended to represent human beings. Parley immediately came up with the light, and said it was a family group, and proceeded to point out that such a figure was such a mother, then present in the room...thus going through the whole collection. His own burly figure was in the midst and could be distinguished without the aid of the dutchman’s expedient." Mrs. B.G. Ferris, The Mormons At Home, With Some Incidents of Travel From Missouri to California 1852-1856 (New York, 1856), 170. .

 

 

Exploration trip art, Spring 1852.

William Warner Major served as artist on an exploration party to the Southern Utah. The group, led by Brigham Young, departed from Salt Lake on April 23, traveled as far as Cedar City and returned to Salt Lake on May 21, 1952.47

1. Pauvant, Fillmore 1852

Location: Brigham Young's office, Beehive House

Description: 11 X 18 Oil on board

Written on rocks in right lower corner: "W.W.Major Painter

PAUVAN

FILMORE 1852 ROCKY MOUNTAINS".

 

2. Parowan, 1852

Location: Brigham Young's Office, Beehive House

Description: 11 x 18 Oil on board

History: In 1881 The Contributor related the history of Utah in 1851: "During the month of January the settlement of Parowan was enclosed as a fort; the foundation of the council house was laid. A view of the fort was painted by W. Majors, representing the settlement, and Little Salt Lake in the distance; this painting was presented in 1870 by President Brigham Young to the Deseret Museum."48

3. Wash'echick, Chief of the Shoshomas Tribe, 1852

Description: Watercolor 7 1/2" X 5 1/2"

Location: Springville Museum, Springville, Utah

History: The Shoshone Indians, under Washakie met the Mormons soon after their arrival in Utah. This sketch may have been made at any time between 1848-1853.49 It is included in with the 1852 art work, because it was discovered with the Parishort watercolor in a New York City used book store. Since William Major departed from his mission to England from New York in 1853, it is likely he sold the paintings for goods or money to live and travel.50

4. Parishort or Leap of Elk, Chief of Corn Creek, May 1852.

Description: 8 ½" x 6", Watercolor. Signature on the lower right side in the fold of the blank reads, "SKETCH BY W.W. MAJOR 1852."

Location: Springville Museum, Springville, Utah

History: While in Fillmore, Utah, Wilford Woodruff wrote in his journal, "May 4th ...Brother Major our Artist took the likeness of an Indian Chief."51

 

 5. Tootoomitch c1852 (41-72-10/424) Tootoomitch - Peabody Museum

Medium:  Watercolor on paper

Dimensions:  26.4cm x 18.8cm (10 3/8" x 7 3/8), Sight

Owner: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 

Since William Major departed from his mission to England from New York in 1853, it is likely he sold the paintings for goods or money to live and travel.

  

Paintings, date unknown

1. James Ferguson

Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum

Description

2. The Scovil Family

Location: Private collection

Description: Scovil family outside their country cottage.

3.  Cat

Location:  destroyed

Kenneth Major of Brigham City, a great grandson of William Warner Major, remembers a cat painting.  This painting and others were passed down though the Joseph Smith Major line.  They were stored in a storage unit and destroyed by water.    

 

 

Other possible paintings

 

1. Heber C. Kimball (probably 1845)

Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum

2. Vilate Murray Kimball (wife of Heber C. Kimball) (probably 1845)

Location: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum.

(The Kimball paintings have been attributed to William Warner Major in the DUPM catalogue of artists, but they are significantly different from Major’s usual style. The portrait of Heber C. Kimball, does look identical to a copy of the Heber C. Kimball likeness in Major’s Joseph Smith and the Church leaders (see chapter 2, figure 7). This may prove that William Major painted the Heber C. Kimball portrait or that he used the Heber C. Kimball portrait, painted by an earlier artist, as a crutch.