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20+ Inspiring LDS Art Celebrating Church History

Banner image of Joseph Smith crossing a field tot he Sacred Grove.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a layered, and often complicated history. Yet through all the tragedies and all of the miracles, a few key principles stand out: faith, hope, charity, and hard work.

The early saints sacrificed much in the way of family and lifestyle and sacrificed all in the way of material gain or comfort. Even while poor, they built magnificent temples and houses of worship. Even when injured or ailing, they found ways to serve each other. Regardless of topics that, in today’s culture, are considered controversial we have much to learn from these dedicated believers of Jesus Christ.

Our artists and photographers have illustrated many important scenes honoring the lives and sacrifices of the Latter-day Saint pioneers. We certainly were not able to include them all here, but here are 20+ images to bring some inspiration into your day, your church activities, or your home.

Joseph Smith and the Sacred Grove

While Jesus Christ established His church long before Joseph Smith, we revere this prophet of God who, despite immense persecution and human imperfections, followed the guidance he received for restoring truths and doctrine that had been lost or construed throughout the ages after Christ’s birth.

The Sacred Grove is the forest near his childhood home where, as an adolescent, he went to pray and ask God for clarification about the various belief systems dividing his community and even his family. His bible study had led him to the verse in James 1:5 which reads: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Joseph took this promise to heart. He received an answer to his question and much more, changing the course of his life from that point onward.

Joseph Smith crossing a field toward a grove of trees.

Spring Morning by Kelsy and Jesse Lightweave

Painting of young Joseph Smith standing in the sacred grove.

The Morning Breaks by Rose Datoc Dall

Panoramic picture of the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith prayed.

Sacred Grove by Robert A. Boyd

Painting of the sacred grove where Joseph Smith recieved the First Vision.

Sacred Prayer by Linda Curley Christensen

Painting of the forest trees in Palmyra where Joseph Smith prayed.

Sacred Grove by Linda Curley Chrisensen

Joseph Smith and the First Vision

In the Sacred Grove, Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. They appeared to the young farm boy and, calling him by his name, acknowledged the clashing doctrines between the various religious parties. They then gave him instruction and knowledge that would prepare him for the challenging tasks that, as with any prophet called of God, he would begin to face.

Black and white sketch of young Joseph Smith kneeling on the forest flooor and gazing up toward the sky..

First Vision by Justine Peterson

Polygonal art painting of Joseph Smith praying with light shining down on him.

First Vision by Madison Wardle

Impressionist painting of Joseph Smith recieving the First Vision.

Early Spring by Jeff Pugh

Modern painting of Jesus Christ and God the Father appearing to Joseph Smith

First Vision by Jorge Cocco

Detailed painting of Joseph Smith gazing up at a bright light.

Let Him Ask in Faith by Simon Dewey

Panoramic image of Joseph Smith kneeling in a sunlight forest.

Desires of the Heart by Kelsy and Jesse Lightweave

Painting of a pillar of light shining on a surprised Joseph Smith who is kneeling in a lush forest.

Ask of God by Robert A. Boyd

Painting of Jesus Christ and God the Father appearing to young Joseph Smith in the woods.

If Any of You Lack Wisdom by Linda Curley Christensen

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

Joseph Smith and the Gold Plates

Our artists have also captured beautiful scenes of Joseph Smith retrieving and translating the gold plates. These plates were an ancient record written by people living in the Americas. The record had a very religious nature and included many histories and sermons directing men and women to Jesus Christ. The record offered truths and ordinances that had been lost since the deaths of Jesus Christ and His apostles. 

By the power of God, Joseph Smith, an illiterate farm boy, translated the record into what is now known as The Book of Mormon: Another Witness of Jesus Christ.

Painting of Joseph Smith retrieving the gold plates and other historical artifcts from the ground.

Preserved by the Hand of God by Simon Dewey

Joseph and Emma retrieving the gold plates from the Hill Cumorah.

Joseph and Emma at the Hill Cumorah by Robert Barrett

Painting of Joseph Smith translating the gold plates.

By the Gift and Power of God by Simon Dewey

Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon

The printing of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, took time, sacrifice, and faith to accomplish. At the time, it was unusual to print that much text, especially in the time that they needed it. Yet, as the early saints continued to act on God’s direction, miracles happened and the book was printed. As a result, individuals and families could have their own copies and could gain a personal witness of its truth by praying and asking God. 

The Interpreter by Jorge Cocco

Joseph Smith holding a printed copy of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

Prophet and Seer by Simon Dewey

LDS Pioneers

Many since have sacrificed livelihoods, relationships, comfort, and even their very lives in an effort to bring back missing truth. The early saints, or Mormon pioneers as they are often termed, are inspiring examples. As they did their best to follow God’s commands to build and rebuild, they faced ample persecution and heart wrenching challenges and tragedies. Yet, as a result, the journal accounts of many resound with strong, glowing faith in Jesus Christ their redeemer.

A train of pioneer wagons crossing the plains.

Pioneer Mormon Wagon Train by Eric Dowdle

All is Well by Annie Henrie Nader

Painting of a pioneer teenager boy carrying his little brother through the snow.

James Kirkwood: Brother’s Keeper by Judy Cooley

Pioneer family enjoying a sunny day, with children playing.

Thrill of Handcart Travel by Linda Curley Christensen

Three men on horseback traveling through the snow to deliver supplies to the struggling Martin Handcart Company

Searching for the Martin Company by Robert Barrett

Latter-day Saint pioneer family huddled together in the snow.

Icy Crucible by Joseph Brickey

Line of pioneers pulling handcarts through the snow.

Ever Onward by Joseph Brickey

Painting of pioneer family pulling their handcart through the snow with assistance from angels.

Light of Grace by Annie Henrie Nader

Triptych featuring the journey of the Latter-day Saint pioneers, showing river rafts, traveling, and snow.

Exodus by Annie Henrie Nader

Church History LDS Temples

Even with all the challenges the early saints faced, they still worked together to build temples, or houses of worship, to God. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to construct these stunning and sacred buildings throughout the world. What began as a small group of believers has quickly grown to reach people on a global scale, to the extent that it seems the temples cannot be built fast enough. 

These art pieces honor the early beginnings and great sacrifices that went into the construction of some of the Church’s first modern temples.

Triptych featuring the early Latter-day Saints and the Salt Lake City Temple.

Holiness to the Lord by Annie Henrie Nader

Painting of early pioneers hauling a block of white stone fro the Salt Lake City Temple.

Builders of the Kingdom by Linda Curley Christensen

Triptych showing the Nauvoo Temple blueprints, the fire, and the restoration.

Building Nauvoo by Annie Henrie Nader

In summary, the message of the restoration of the gospel is this: God still speaks. He is still very present and has a hand in our lives, no matter how insignificant we may feel.

It is a brave thing for our artists and photographers to put so much heart and talent into topics that, to many, have appeared false or controversial. In the end, neither words nor necessarily art can prove the reality of these events. As the apostle Paul taught in his letters to the Corinthians: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2: 14).

When it comes to seeking truth, may we do as James directed: pray and ask God.

For more illustrations of scenes from Church History, such as the restoration of the priesthood or additional miraculous events, check out these new products or visit our online store.

Poster featuring a painting of Joseph Smith praying in the Sacred Grove.
Instagram post featuring a Jorge Cocco painting of an angel appearing to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.