The painting is among the most recognized in Mormon Art; The delivering of the plates of the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni by Lewis A. Ramsey. This video is about the incredible story of the artist’s very first original version of this painting “The Restoration” as L.A. Ramsey titled it.
The painting was first done as a mural in the SLC 11th Ward Chapel. It was widely acclaimed becoming one of the most recognizable LDS Sunday School illustrations in the Church. With such popularity, L.A. Ramsey made many more versions of the painting which added to it’s use as an illustration far and wide.
The 11th Ward Chapel was slated for demolition in 1960 to make way for a hospital and the mural was at risk because no one knew how to remove it. Finally, in a declaration from Church Headquarters, the entire wall was encased in cement, removed from the building and the mural was saved.
But, then, what did they do with it? Unknown and lost for decades, Church Historian and Curator, Richard Omen began a hunt for the “long lost masterpiece” in 1979. He discovered it in the back lot of the Deseret Press with a shed built around it.
I remember, when he called me. He was so excited to, maybe, have found the lost painting. We met in the back lot, I took a claw hammer and pried off a plywood panel and I looked inside with a flashlight: the smell of rats, feces and urine about knocked me off my feet! It reeked! With a big deep breath, we began pulling away boards and”stuff” only to discover later they were mounds of rat nests.
Finally, we were about to see past all the “coverings” and saw the image you see here in the video. We had a bit of a celebration and we scheduled immediately to remove the mural from the shed. Soon therafter, we removed the mural from the cement wall. One of the complications we encountered was the presence of toxic led adhesives and paint. Once removed, we took the mural painting to the conservation laboratory for a full conservation treatment and restoration. The video shows these moments too.
As Dr. John D. Hopkins quoted me, “We had a tough go of it.” The conservation problems went from bad to worse. For some terrific research and more background info on the painting and artist, go to http://bit.ly/nYIQAZ
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Art conservation questions: Call Scott Haskins at 805 564 3438
Art appraisal questions? Call Richard at 805 895 5121
Also, check out www.fineartconservationlab.com
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