Seeing Joseph

 

I’m pushing out a new edition of Reluctant Polygamist soon and decided to revisit the image of Joseph on my cover.

My concept was to overlay my altered image of Joseph’s face (the image on the right) onto the death mask, allowing some of the texture of the death mask to provide nuance to the image.

But when I showed the result to my husband (without informing him what I’d done), his comment was “the head looks too big for the body.”

This had nothing to do with my update, but everything to do with how I’d originally attempted to correct the proportions of the painted image.

I went back to the drawing board. This time I scaled the death mask to see how much I could get it to align with the existing image, rather than presuming I had to move everything on the face to align with the death mask (as proposed by Lorie Winder 1 ).

It turned out that the original image I was working from (see the pretty face on the left above) aligned with the brows, eye centers, lips, and chin. The only thing that didn’t line up was the tip of the nose.

The nose on the original image is noticeably petite, so it never occurred to me that it could be too long. I shifted the tip away from the lips, towards the eyes, and underlaid the death mask. The result is what you see in the middle.

Notes:

  1. Winder, Lorie, “In Search of the Real Joseph Smith,” Sunstone, issue 24, Nov/Dec 1980, p. 31.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

3 thoughts on “Seeing Joseph

  1. Meg, “. . .the original image I was working from (see the pretty face on the left above) . . .” and “The result is what you see on the left.” Which is on the left?

  2. Sorry, the original is the more pink and smooth face on the left.

    The update is the face on the right. Updated the text above…

  3. Actually, changed the image so it shows

    Left: The original

    Center: The original with shifted nose superimposed over the death mask

    Right: My modification that has been on other covers of Reluctant Polygamist.

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