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Project Commentaries: I Will Uphold Thee by Elspeth Young
By Elspeth C. Young
Elspeth blocks in Caroline's costuming
Since early February of this year, Elspeth has been working on a painting of Mary Elizabeth and Caroline Rollins—two pioneer sisters who bravely saved what they could from a violent mob who destroyed the early Church's printing press July 20, 1833. The painting depicts both teenage girls with the precious galley pages of The Book of Commandments which they salvaged while they were pursued by armed members of the mob. In desperation they sought refuge in a nearby cornfield--an occurrence Mary movingly described in her published autobiography.
Portion of Book of Commandments galley facsimile
Research for the painting has required months of effort (and the gracious help of several experts at the Museum of Church History and Art and the Church History Library in Salt Lake City) during the painting's pre-production stages. Not only did Elspeth need to replicate period appropriate costuming for the young women, it was necessary for her to re-create actual-size facsimiles of the original Book of Commandments galleys (detail pictured above right) using scans from Wilford Woodruff's personal copy of the 1833 printing. Elspeth is shown left, blocking-in the costuming of the figure of Caroline Rollins.