Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Winter Quarters center features pioneer artist

Painter captured Church history
Published: Saturday, June 1, 2002

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OMAHA, Neb. — Visitors to the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters (Neb.) will have an added treat this summer, an exhibit of Church history paintings by renowned pioneer Latter-day Saint artist C.C.A. Christensen.

Courtesy Museum of Church History and Art
"Sugar Creek" depicts the staging area for Nauvoo exiles who departed in 1846.

Courtesy Museum of Church History and Art
Two paintings from Christensen's "Mormon Panorama" depict "Missionaries in Denmark," right, and "Emigrant Ship," left.
Courtesy Museum of Church History and Art
Two paintings from Christensen's "Mormon Panorama" depict "Missionaries in Denmark," right, and "Emigrant Ship," left.
Courtesy Museum of Church History and Art
"The Handcart Company" depicts pioneers who used this method of travel, employed from 1856 to 1860.

Sponsored by the Danish Immigrant Museum based in Elkhorn, Iowa, the exhibit is titled "Narrating History through Image: C.C.A. Christensen, Danish Immigrant Painter, Unfolds a Migration Story."

"C.C.A. Christensen (1831-1912) of Copenhagen did more than any other person to capture the images of the history of Mormon migration to Utah and the life lived there," said Rick Burns, director of the Danish museum and a member of the Church.

"The major turning point in Christensen's life occurred in 1850, when he became an early convert [in] the Mormons' newly established Scandinavian Mission in Denmark. Following missionary work in his native country and in Norway, he left for Utah in 1857. He sailed aboard the Westmoreland and, with his bride, Elise, pushed a handcart 1,300 miles from Iowa to Salt Lake City. He personally experienced much of what the average pioneer in the early days of Utah had lived through and brought this intimate knowledge to his art work."

Brother Christensen also wrote poetry, contributed to the Danish-Norwegian newspaper Bikuben, and assisted the Church historian in the preparation of the History of the Scandinavian Mission, in which he served three missions.

Winter Quarters, site of the main temporary settlement during the Latter-day Saint westward migration in the 1840s and 1850s, is located in the present-day Florence district of Omaha, Neb., just over the Missouri River from Council Bluffs, Iowa.