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Behind the Scene
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Artist's commentary about the painting
This small study in oils is a tone poem commemorating the hope that dawned when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began the final leg of their trek westward. Driven from Illinois and Missouri, the refugees spent the teeth of the winter of 1847 encamped on the plains of Nebraska. Then, on the morning of 1847 April 8, Brigham Young's Vanguard Company embarked. The carefully selected reconnaissance team set out to find a suitable home for many thousands of refugees to follow. Eyewitness Thomas Bullock, ever quick to observe the wonders of nature, wrote that day that Heaven had provided a sweet sunrise, trees in "beautiful bloom, grass springing in all direction," clear skies, and a soaring "flock of thirty-three cranes flying high in the air round the pioneer encampment" to accompany the their embarkation on 1847 April 8. Having "encamped for the night on the prairie, without wood or water, a keen North wind blowing all the time at night," he was renewed and encouraged by the resplendence of the morning. Surely the fair prospect of the morning was Heaven's gift, resonant with the declaration of the psalmist that Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5).