A Picturesque and Dramatic History: George Reynolds’s Story of the Book of Mormon

George Reynolds’s 1888 The Story of the Book of Mormon was the first published book attempting to illustrate Book of Mormon events, characters, and settings. Contributing painters looked to American historical artists for stylistic inspiration and used biblical imagery to convey that Book of Mormon peoples were from the Near East. They often created settings reminiscent of ancient Central America, including Mayan temples and ruins. The book was used widely in Primary and Sunday School, and its appeal may have contributed to the Deseret News‘s 1890 call for more Mormon-specific religious art to aid in the classroom. While modern readers may not be impressed by the quality of nineteenth-century artwork included in Reynolds’s book, The Story of the Book of Mormon was significant in being the first to establish what the characters and setting of the Book of Mormon may have looked like.

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