Angels in painting represent artist’s wayward daughters


second-coming-ldsMost members are very familiar with this painting of the Savior’s Second Coming. It hangs in many churches, temples, and other LDS buildings. The painting shows Christ returning to Earth with angels on both the left and right of him. All the angels have their trumpets pointing upward except for two of them, which point their trumpets downward. The legend is that these two angels represent the artist’s daughters, who have either left the church or are no longer active.

I have not been able to find any evidence to support this legend. If the legend is directly referring to the daughters no longer being active in the LDS Church, it is definitely false. The artist that painted the image was Harry Anderson and he was not LDS, he was a Seventh-day Adventist. The LDS Church commissioned Anderson in the 1960’s to paint several paintings portraying key points in the Savior’s life. Among his commissioned paintings for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were Christ Ordains His Apostles, The Ascension of Christ, The Second Coming, Isaiah Prophesying, Christ Giving Commission to Disciples, Christ in Gethsemane, The Sermon on the Mount, The Resurrected Christ Appearing to Mary, Christ with Children, Triumphal Entry, The Crucifixion, and The Resurrected Christ Appearing to the Disciples. Anderson painted fourteen scenes from the life of Jesus Christ and six from the Old Testament for the LDS Church. The Church also acquired nineteen additional paintings from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, all with biblical themes.

Church leaders liked Anderson’s work and asked him for paintings on the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Anderson refused stating that he was a true and honorable Seventh Day Adventist and could not paint things he did not believe in. As long as the Church commissioned biblical work, he would accept it and would acquiesce to Church leaders on visual interpretation. For example, when Anderson was counseled to paint angels with no wings, he complied but never missed an occasion to attempt to convert Church leaders to the correctness of his personal biblical interpretation. Artist Bill Whittaker remembers being amused at the doctrinal bantering Anderson enjoyed with Gordon B. Hinckley(Barrett and Black, 2005).

This leads to another urban legend that Anderson painted the Savior and the angels with wings and that he later had to paint over them. You can find that myth here as well.

For more information on Anderson and other LDS artists, read a great BYU Studies academic paper written by Robert T. Barrett and Susan Easton Black.

Artist includes daughter in LDS painting

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