Orson Pratt, Morman Iconoclast, Through the Eyes of Frederick Piercy and the Lens of Francis Henry Grice

The center image is Orson Pratt from an engraving by Frederick Piercy, ca1855 Orson Pratt – Biography (josephsmithpapers.org); The left image is an engraving also by Piercy, ca1852 Orson Pratt – Biography (josephsmithpapers.org); the right image is from the LOC Grice Collection [Unidentified man, half-length portrait, facing front] | Library of Congress (loc.gov). All the images are cropped, and none have been flipped.

Frederick Piercy, artist and engraver, departed aboard Jersey from Liverpool on February 5, 1853, with a party of about 300 other Mormon immigrants. They were bound for the port of New Orleans, and eventually to Salt Lake City via St. Louis. He accompanied the Miller-Cooley Company to Salt Lake City later in 1853. This journey resulted in the publication of the illustrated travel book, “Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley”. The multivolume book was purchased by the Mormon Church, but a dispute over the offering price led to an estrangement between Piercy and both the Church and Pratt.

Frederick Piercy, Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley: illustrated with steel engravings and woodcuts from sketches made by Frederick Piercy . . . : together with a geographical and historical description of Utah, and a map of the overland routes to that territory from the Missouri River: also an authentic history of the Latter-Day Saints’ emigration from Europe from the commencement up to the close of 1855, with statistics, ed. James Linforth (Liverpool published by Franklin D. Richards; London: Latter-Day Saints’ Book Depot,
1855).

So, Piercy and Orson Pratt had a troubled relationship, as was the relationship between Pratt and Brigham Young. THE ORSON PRATT-BRIGHAM YOUNG CONTROVERSIES: CONFLICT WITHIN THE QUORUMS, 1853 TO 1868 on JSTOR The dates of the engravings above are taken from the Joseph Smith Papers entry. But a more detailed description of Piercy’s relationship with the Mormans is given by Chatterley (see: https://ensignpeakfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/MHS_Fall2003_Frederick-Piercy.pdf ). Pratt presided over the Mormon Church in Great Britain, 1848–1849, 1856–1857. (England, Breck. The Life and Thought of Orson Pratt. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1985.) Chatterley gives an 1849 date for the stippled left engraving, meaning it was executed in Great Britain if done from life. The raised left eyebrow (actually right, as the Daguerreotype is a mirrored image) mimics the Grice Daguerreotype, suggesting that both engravings were done from Daguerreotypes. Piercy did many Morman engravings. In 1853, the Church also published an engraving Piercy made that is a composite of portraits of the General Authorities of the Church, based on daguerreotypes made in Salt Lake City. (See Fairbanks, Jonathan, “The Great Platte River Trail in 1853).

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