If God So Clothe The Field by Elspeth Young

If God So Clothe The Field

{ Margaretta Unwin Clark }
Pre-mounted Giclées on canvas (gatorboard)
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14" x 18"$175.0016" x 20"$215.0018" x 24"$280.00
Giclées on canvas (unmounted canvas roll)
Larger rolled canvas prints with a 2-inch margin for the customer to mount the print to stretcher bars at a local framing store or art center. No glass needed.
16" x 29.125"$222.0020" x 36.375"$331.0030" x 40"$528.0036" x 65.375"$1,009.00
18" x 32.75"$274.0024" x 36"$388.0030" x 54.5"$709.0047" x 85.25"$1,697.00
20" x 30"$278.0024" x 43.625"$464.0033.375" x 60"$862.00
Paper prints
High-grade art reproductions available on photo paper (in sizes 12x18 and larger) or on high-quality 9pt (100#) paper. Combined shipping available for most smaller sizes.
16" x 20"$73.0020" x 30"$122.0030" x 40"$225.00
18" x 24"$93.0024" x 36"$168.00
Other products
Other options including the original artwork, bookmarks, and limited edition prints.
Original oil painting$44,968.00 Sold
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Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?...And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin...Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?...But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:26-33

The story behind If God So Clothe The Field

As the Martin Handcart Company of 1856 prepared to embark on their 1300 mile journey from the tall-grass prairies of Iowa to the Rocky Mountains, a 28-year old factory girl from Nottinghamshire, England, who had left behind her family and her homeland, was faced with yet another sacrifice.  Her son, Willard Call, described his mother's experience:
“While Mormonism was very young in England, Margaretta Unwin, a girl of about 19 years...was one of the earliest to receive the Gospel in Nottingham....She was hardly a full fledged member of the church until the idea forced itself upon her that she should gather with the body of the church. Daily growing within her was the wish to enjoy the advantages, of the close association with the church and the prophets of the Lord in Zion....
[She labored] eight years of almost penurious saving to accumulate money for a ship passage over the Atlantic ocean, for railroad fare to Iowa City, Iowa...[and] for the expenses of a thirteen hundred mile walk out into the almost unknown west.
In her eight years of financial struggle we are now willing to overlook her error in preparing to look nice when she should arrive in this great wilderness waste. We can afford to take into account the shock which Mother's sensitive nature received as piece by piece her hope chest and her wardrobe, probably quite ample and of course entirely suitable to the requirements of an attractive handsome girl in an English city of five hundred thousand, were left by the roadside to lighten the load.”
(From Willard Call, Life Sketch of Margaretta Unwin Clark Call, undated, 5 pp.  Punctuation and spelling have been standardized.)
It is believed by Margaretta's descendants that the treasures in her travel trunk and hope chest—which she selflessly cast away to lighten the load of the handcart—were all the trimmings of a typical Victorian bridal trousseau, and evidence that she hoped to be prepared to look her best in the society of her beloved Zion.  Nevertheless, her sacrificing of these treasures and her faithfulness in the legendary travails associated with the very mention of "the Martin Handcart Company" clothed her with those qualities of character fit for the Kingdom of God.

Symbolism in If God So Clothe The Field

All flora and fauna in this painted prairie were known to be native to Iowa in the mid-nineteenth century.  Care has also been taken to present that which was in seasonable in early July, when the Martin Company set out from Iowa City.  Each flower represents the "lilies of the field" referenced in the  Savior's teachings concerning the watch-care of God over all who trust in him (see Matthew 6).  The resplendence of the prairie-scape and the majesty of the sky convey the beneficence with which God daily clothes the field as well as those who trust in Him.

The flax near the figure and in her arms represents the toil of daily labor, being the fiber filaments from which linen is spun. The wild roses (the state flower of Iowa) remind the viewer of Isaiah's promise that "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" (Isaiah 35:1).  The soaring martins in the distance echo the Savior's reminder that God is mindful of the fowls of the air.  And the small, almost imperceptible white blossoms mixed among the foxtail grasses at the figure's feet are a delicate natural lace edging surrounding the glory of the field, signifying Heaven's abundant mercy.

The figure's well-worn costume is her work-day uniform that recalls her life of factory toil and symbolizes her willingness to sacrifice so that she might journey to Zion unencumbered.  The trunk, based on Victorian travel trunks of her era, is draped by a few items of finery like the many articles she left behind.  The netted lace is based upon patterns of Nottinghamshire laces extant from Margaretta's day, and are a reminder of her work in a lace factory.

Only two handcarts still exist from the days of the Mormon treks across the plains. The hand-hewn wooden handcart wheel painted behind the figure is based on one of these.
© By Elspeth Young, All Rights Reserved. You may not print, copy, or reproduce this artwork or make derivative works from it without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. For permissions, please review our FAQ page.

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