William B. McCarl's Theory
In 1962, William B. McCarl submitted his thesis, "The Visual Image of Joseph Smith", which to this day, includes the most comprehensive compilation of data on anything ever published, from journals, by family and friends, of what Joseph Smith looked like, the history of all life paintings, drawings and of course- he researched long and hard to find out if a real photograph existed of Joseph Smith Jr. McCarl found many incredible sources throughout the state of Utah. Those who are not familiar with the Church, or Utah, may need to know that BYU is located in Provo, Utah, not an hour from Salt Lake City, where the Church headquarters, and all historical records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day. What McCarl clearly did not have, were records, newspaper clippings associated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Community of Christ- is the name today). I do assert there were some major errors, in McCarl's 1962 article, not from some nefarious intent, but a result of the day- a time when the two sects were not communicating as amicably or sharing things, as they are today (and selling).
The biggest piece of evidence, for an image of the Prophet Joseph Smith comes directly from the Eldest boy born of Joseph and Emma Smith, Joseph Smith III (born in 1832), in a 1910 letter to the Salt Lake Tribune he begins off saying how a painting by Lewis Ramsey proves Utahns no little of what his father looked like, how he refutes statements that no authentic pictures exist of him, and recommends that Ramsey visit the Capitol of Iowa, he would find a duplicate oil painting of Joseph Smith.
The duplicate oil painting, courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa. Link here.
Joseph Smith III states that an authenticate oil painting exists and is in Missouri, which was done by the same artist that painted his uncle Hyrum. Joseph Smith III then states how that painting, done around 1843, "is sustained in the characteristic likeness" of his father, by a daguerreotype he has, done around the same time. One thing is certain to most, is this means the painting was done from LIFE, but the daguerreotype helped to sustain the authentic painting, but when he starts talking about how his father wore his wedding ring on his left, NOT right hand. McCarl decides, by this fact alone, that Joseph Smith III would have known and remembered his father didn't wear a ring on his right hand, but his left, and to rectify the issue of the painting Emma had in her room the last 37 years of her life, also having a ring on the right- not left hand, would make sense if the painting was done by looking at a daguerreotype- with inverted dimensions- mirroring everything on the other side, than is normally viewed in mortality.
The controversy starts with an August 18th, 1885 expert, from the Deseret News:
The Deseret News claims Carter has a daguerreotype of the Prophet Joseph Smith, taken in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1843, which he is copying and touching up with India Ink, until "pictures as true to nature as possible... can be produced"- why would a real photograph need to be touched up to look "true to nature", and why would his friends say it was an "excellent likeness", if it was a photograph (aren't photographs as true to "nature" as you can get)??
McCarl references two quotes by Junius F. Wells, from October 1885, in the Juvenile Instructor, where he states the photograph circulating around Utah, was not from a daguerreotype of the man- Joseph Smith Jr, but from a daguerreotype (or photograph) of the forward facing painting- of Joseph Smith, and how that painting was not painted from looking at daguerreotype, but the artist David Rogers, painted it from life- he painted Joseph Smith for four days- per Joseph's September 16th, 1842 journal entry- and four other entries, so why would Joseph be with him if he was NOT painting him from life, if he was painting a daguerreotype- Joseph Smith Jr. would not have needed to be present. The Joseph Smith Papers project clearly believes Wells, if you look at their website, where they show the painting the Community of Christ, currently owns, they blatantly state this was done by David Rogers.
2019, I was confused to find out, through the Joseph Smith Papers, that for sure- David Roger's painted the forward facing painting. McCarl's article had hosts of people believing it was William Major (who could not have painted Joseph Smith from life; however- once I found a newspaper from August 15th, 1879, stating clearly photographs of the forward facing painting, were being sold, and that the artist was one- from New York, and two had painted Joseph Smith Jr. when he was 36 (so between December 23, 1841-December 23, 1842)- obviously September 16th, 1842- when Roger's painting Joseph Smith- falls into this bracket of time, but what has thrown other researchers off (in some well made and published books) was that Joseph Smith III states 1843- a while later- and says he isn't sure when his Father's daguerreotype was even taken, considering 1885-when he was only around 53, and 1910- 78 years old and only had 4 more years left of life, we could say age may have something to do with the change in date and confusion (add in the fact he was only almost 10- when David Roger's painted his dad and almost 14 when he died- he has a solid excuse to not remember- perfectly). The real point is that Utah writers, such McCarl and others- would not have had easy access to the Saint's Herald, for one- this issue was published in Plano, Kendall County, Illinois, and the editor was Joseph Smith III- a man whose life's mission was to take over the LDS Church and to prove them wrong, by proving polygamy was wrong- communication and sharing or information/documents was strained for a good 130 years, till relations were mended in the early 00s (so a 1962 article at BYU and a 1990s book or two- would not reference this article, likely written by Joseph Smith III himself).
McCarl wrote an excellent paper, but chose the stance that Junius F. Wells didn't say Emma Smith told him it was David Rogers, however when I found the full 1930 from The Instructor, Formerly the Juvenile Instructor, it is very, very clear Junius F. Wells met with Emma Smith personally, before her death, stayed in the Mansion house and heard a tale of Joseph Smith needing cheering up as this painting was done, so Roger's tried to make him laugh, causing the result to be an image of Joseph Smith smirking (holding back a laugh). On page 80, Wells states he heard the Two Martyrs picture of Joseph and Hyrum Smith facing each other was based on a real daguerreotype of Joseph Smith, taken in Nauvoo, sometime between April-June 1844, by Lucian Rose Foster, however he was unable to confirm that, but he doesn't believe the painting was based on a daguerreotype, as McCarl asserts.
So, how did all this get so confusing, and lost in translation? How could people, even today, believe that Carter's copy of Joseph Smith's copy of the forward facing painting, be considered a copy of the daguerreotype, taken in Nauvoo, in 1843?
The above photograph, of a drawing (copyrighted by Charles W. Carter), one of many like it (very much matching the forward facing painting). Carter stretched... the truth a bit. The Library of Congress image, which matches Roger's painting, is stated to be a copy of a painting, not of a man- in a daguerreotype. I theorize, Joseph Smith III had a daguerreotype of the forward facing painting, that was copied from the original forward facing painting, and was copying (some details) off the original daguerreotype of Joseph Smith- taken by Lucian Foster. Following this logic, of Carter's- his drawing is copied from a daguerreotype, but it's such bad artwork- NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would think THIS is a photograph of a man, but if he takes the exact same logic to the daguerreotype of the duplicate oil painting (that was copying some features off the daguerreotype in 1844, and mostly copying the 1842 painting- which lines up with what the 1910 letters says- that daguerreotype was just a means of sustaining the "characteristic likeness"- NOT to be the means of creating a whole new painting, but making a painting a better likeness than what his mother said (who Junius F. Wells said in 1885- she didn't think it was a good "likeness"- and Joseph Smith Junior himself said in 1885- pg 35,
"It is a pretty good likeness of a silly boy, but not much like the Prophet of the Lord." Joseph Smith thought he looked like a "boy" and it was a "pretty good likeness"- and Emma herself said wasn't a good likeness either, of course Joseph Smith III had to make it better and very well he knew what Junius F. Wells said in 1885, and he was offended this man was possibly ruining his sales, he made MANY copies of the original 1842 painting, trying to make it a better, and better "likeness", so people like Kim Marshall ended up with a photograph that really looks like the Carter image of Joseph Smith (of the painting), with some differences, either someone did india ink and drew an S-shaped tie pin on ONLY her image, or her image was a photographic (1800s quality) of another duplicate oil painting. Very well, Joseph Smith III tried to copy the daguerreotype, but it didn't "copy well", as seemed to be a concern per a quote on Kim Marshall's blog here (which I have had so much trouble trying to get verified, I want to pull SOME of my hair out), stating he was going to "see whether they [real picture of his father Joseph Smith Junior] will copy well" - to Jane A. Robinson and I think that maybe, as was a common effect of copying- the original daguerreotype had over a decade to oxidize, from having the metal plate exposde to air- t be copied, the original could NOT "copy well". But what is of great interest to me, is in the same article by Wells, he mentions the "Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley", which was something I was intrigued by back in 2019 (when I first discovered a unique drawing of Joseph Smith, by Frederick Piercy, which I began to believe WAS copied from my CDV, having the flatter styled hair, side part, split lapel, popped down collar, dark tie, it looked like my guy, even though Wells is just stating this article included the Two Martyrs as being where the original of that profile of the two brothers, is written about just a paragraph down from him mentioning- Lucian Foster taking a daguerreotype of the man Joseph Smith, and that being a basis of a drawing- made me give a double take. Considering how confused Utahns were and have been on this subject, the game of telephone, I wonder if Piercy himself saw the daguerreotype version of my image, as he mentions on pg.64 of "Route to Liverpool", Piercy details meeting Emma, her sons, Lucy Mack Smith (drawing her as well), bonding with the youngest boy David- who turned out to love art and loved watching Piercy draw, I believe Piercy got into the good graces of Emma Smith and was able to gain he trust enough to be shown the daguerreotype Lucian Foster took, if only briefly, that he was able to produce an image, I can see more than all others- looked like the man in CDV, seen below.
I theorize Frederick Piercy drew the above drawing, after viewing the original- of my CDV, but not long enough to create an exact copy, but to try and create his own rendition (whereas others in the Route to Liverpool, appear to be copies of Maudsley's and Roger's artwork, this one is not the same- it is different, like how the man in my CDV is different, different hair, wavy, but receding with a side part, POPPED DOWN COLLAR, the darker upper lapel). Basically, I could see how a drawing- not readily shared in Utah, which is a profile of the two martyrs, but isn't "The Two Martyrs" drawing of the title, could get confused in the "game of telephone"- that Wells would not realize the image was the one above- that was created by looking at the original daguerreotype...
The controversy over what hand Joseph Smith wore his gold ring on, is settle by Sutcliffe Maudsley's artwork, which below, shows Joseph Smith infact DID wear a gold ring on his right hand. NO ONE claims this painting was based on a daguerreotype, but from LIFE.
Maudsley' portrait- zoomed in below, there is a ring on Joseph Smith's RIGHT hand. I can see it many of Maudsley's artwork, the ring on the right hand, but this should suffice.