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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 is where all historical records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day are housed. What William B. McCarl clearly did not have were RLDS records,  the Saints Herald, if he did- likely would have changed his theories!  Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Community of Christ- is the name today), were not as close in the 1960s, as they are today, thanks to President Hinckley's efforts in the 1990s, things are shared between the two churches, not the case in earlier decades, such as the one in which McCarl wrote his thesis. I assert there were some major errors in McCarl's 1962 article, not from some nefarious intent, but a result of the day.

     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.

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The duplicate oil painting, courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa. Link here.

      Joseph Smith III FIRST mentioned Ramsey go to Iowa and see the above painting, a duplicate oil painting (copying an "authentic painting", he 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 when Joseph Smith was alive, not dead and the daguerreotype helped to "sustain the characteristic likeness" in the authentic painting or... in the duplicate oil painting? It was when Joseph Smith III starts talking about how his father wore his wedding ring on his left, NOT right hand that 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)? Also, there exists a "glass plate negative" of Carters sadly it looks nothing like a real negative, the lights and darks are NOT reversed? I believe the July 2022 article by renowned HISTORIANS, "Hidden Things Shall Come to Light: The Visual Image of Joseph Smith Jr.", by Ronald Romig and Lachlan Mackay-  shows two real daguerreotypes of the forward facing painting, and they were both just that- daguerreotypes of the David Roger's 1842 painting.

     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. 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. I found an article in the Saint's Herald, the paper Joseph Smith III was Editor of (and the reason of which he moved to Plano, Illinois), supports Junius F. Well's 1885 claims: August 15th, 1879, states 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 date- FITS, when Roger's was for sure painting Joseph Smith. Note- JS III was only 9- when David Roger's painted his dad and almost 14 when he died- he has a solid excuse to not remember if the painting was 1842 or 1843, his above letter shows he isn't sure, saying "I think..." when trying to nail down when the daguerreotype and the painting were done of his father.


McCarl and others- would not have had easy access to the Saint's Herald, and he wrote an excellent paper, but chose the stance that Junius F. Wells didn't say Emma Smith told him it was David Rogers, to discredit him, 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?

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      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- Emma 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. Joseph Smith III likely KNEW this "authentic Oil Painting" by David Rogers, wasn't such a great likeness, thus he made MANY copies/duplicates of the original 1842 painting, trying to make it a better, and better "likeness". This is not... widely known. Joseph Smith III tried to copy the daguerreotype of his Father, Joseph Smith Jr., 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" - a letter 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 exposed to air- be copied, the original could NOT "copy well".


One thing, which 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. 



































       The controversy over what hand Joseph Smith wore his gold ring on, is settle by Sutcliffe Maudsley's artwork, which below, shows Joseph Smith Jun. DID wear a gold ring on his right hand. NO ONE claims this painting was based on a daguerreotype, but from LIFE. See a life painting of Joseph Smith, by Sutcliffe Maudsely, below:


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, so the idea that Joseph Smith III could not be wrong which hand his father wore his ring, and the idea that the painting needed to be inverted to correct this is debunked. 

josephsmithmaudsley.jpg I continue researching and others bring up their own arguments, in very recent days has come in the contrary by Curtis Weber and David Lindsley claiming that the "authentic oil painting" was NOT from life, but from a daguerreotype. Joseph Smith III himself said it (the "only forward facing painting) was done before his father died (1910 letter above), and noted was completed when his Dad was 36 in 1879 Saint's Herald advertisement (the paper HE WAS RUNNING, he was the editor of, advertisement he was financially benefiting from) thus a second time- stating his father was ALIVE when the painting was done... these two men are gaining public accolades and attention, are well known and sadly, I believe they are grossly in error.

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Profile painting by David Rogers of Joseph Smith September Jun., 1842

Profile painting by David Rogers, of Hyrum Smith, 1842

Deseret News, November 19th, 1855, “Returned Missionaries”, states: “…the west walls were suspended two profile likenesses, life size, executed in oil, of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. They were painted in Nauvoo by David Rogers of New York in the year 1842, are the property of President B. Young…”

The profile paintings are still in possession of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints today, so because of the Deseret News article above, many believe he just did one set of paintings of the Prophet and his Brother Hyrum, seen above. Notice how the forward facing painting shows Joseph in the same outfit and again sitting in front of a badly placed taupe background.

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Painting of Emma Hale Smith 1842, by David Rogers

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Painting of Joseph Smith, by David Rogers

CDV copy of Emma's only known daguerreotype., approx. 1845 and likely by Lucian Foster

In my opinion, enough similarities exist between the background, hair height, clothing for the same artist to have painted both a profile and a forward facing painting of Joseph Smith, four days actually really is enough time, from the 16th to the 21st of September 1842, Rogers spent with Joseph and his brothers. The argument came to me, in a comment section on YouTube, that since there were matching profiles of the paintings above, by Rogers, the missing matching Painting of Hyrum Smith- of the forward facing painting cast evidence against the claim the forward facing painting was by David Rogers (and thus from life, which should not be in dispute as the sons said it was done when their father was "36"), but I meditated on this question,


"Where is the matching painting of Hyrum Smith?" (this individual believes a daguerreotype was the basis of the painting done of Joseph Smith, when... he was 36 years old, two years before his murder). 

The existence alone of the painting doesn't imply it is based on a daguerreotype, the matching background, artistry and style in Emma's matching painting, also concluded by the Community of Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as being by David Rogers, I would counter ask Curtis, where is Emma's matching daguerreotype? There isn't one, her daguerreotype doesn't match, in which she is holding baby David Hyrum Smith, the oldest and only known daguerreotype of Emma. 


Curtis asking where the matching portrait of Hyrum Smith was located, was the SAME point of contention between Emma and Brigham Young, who accused her of "stealing" Hyrum's portrait. David Hyrum Smith reminiscing on this 1869 attack by Brigham, in a 1872 letter to Alexander, states:


“…Brigham will both have it that Mother has the picture of Uncle Hyrum in her parlor as life size oil painting head and shoulders. This is the picture Brigham charged her with stealing when Alexander and I visited him three years ago…”

David states the painting Brigham is charging Emma with not sharing with the Church, of Hyrum Smith is "head and shoulders" and ONLY a forward facing painting would show both shoulders of Hyrum, NOT a profile, so it was a forward facing painting hanging in the Parlor, still unmoved in 1872... This would possibly be the matching forward facing painting, that was done by David Rogers in 1842 and the profiles somehow were given to Brigham and the Church, but not the forward facing paintings... 


What is known there WAS a forward facing painting of Hyrum Smith, the Joseph Smith Papers notes was done in 1833 and photograph of the painting by "Webber", only found online as a photograph of the painting, inserted into a paper CDV. As there are not books on the "Face of Hyrum Smith", the provenance is hardly written about or analyzed, I have nothing to draw upon, either the below image is it, or they burned it in anger. Considering the vitriol from Joseph F. Smith (son of Hyrum Smith, who likely wanted the original painting of his dad) and the angry words spewed by Brigham, why would they lend it over? I am missing the rest of the story, but clearly in 1872, despite a few visits from the sons of Hyrum Smith to Nauvoo (noted by Joseph Smith III as happening in the late 1850s), they left empty handed, without their father's painting, either because Emma refused or they didn't think they could keep it safe. Either way, visits didn't continue and Hyrum's painting was NOT shipped to Utah (as far as I know, as we only have a CDV of the portrait painting). 

Update, the image below was found in the photo album of the Clawson Family, and the clearest CDV of the "missing" forward facing painting of Hyrum Smith was also found in Bathsheba Smith Family Album (of which is where the date of 1834 (not 1833) and "Webber" is credited for the painting), two different CDVs in different conditions (Smith's version is clearer and in better shape of course), likely many copies were paid for at the same time the painting was photographed and glued to the front of cardboard, matching the Piercy artwork of THIS painting seen in the Church Catalog. In 1852 Frederick Peircy sketched the forward facing painting of Hyrum Smith (after visiting Emma Smith in Nauvoo), and was published in "Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley : illustrated with steel engravings and wood cuts from sketches made by Frederick Piercy". The statement in the above letter to the Salt Lake Tribune, Makes a lot of sense:

"“…authentic oil painting... by the same artist that painted one of my uncle, Hyrum Smith, which has formed a basis of pictures of him since his family went to Utah…” Joseph Smith III Letter to the Salt Lake Tribune March 10, 1910. "

Many copies of the painting below, sketched and reprinted are found in the Church History Catalog as well: LINK, and another LINK

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When I compare the forward facing painting by Rogers, to my photograph of Joseph Smith, the similarities abound, despite it being not a good likeness in Emma OR Joseph's eyes, from the similar rounded, not flat chin, to the high cheek bones (NOT a result of falling out a 2 story window, that claim is sad), to their similar left and right brows. See my explanations for similarities and differences I found in the forward facing painting and the death mask, below. 

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