Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Inspires LDS Woman to Paint ‘The Forgotten Wives’


Leslie O. Peterson, a fifth generation Latter-day Saint, was shocked when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released an essay explaining that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and had more than 30 wives.

Peterson explained her frustrations, and the anger she felt when she first found out with the New York Times, wondering why she didn’t know anything about them. In a YouTube video, posted above, Peterson explains that she took it upon herself to learn about these women. She said,

I decided I’d do a little research on my own, and I fell in LOVE with Mormon history. And these women came alive to me. I wanted to do something to celebrate these fascinating women. I decided to paint them.

And then, “The Forgotten Wives” was born. New York Times reports that the watercolor portraits were on display this summer at a gallery in Provo and at the Sunstone Symposium. Peterson will also share her work at Dixie State University this October.

Peterson began painting only three years ago when she took her very first art class. She tried to portray each woman’s individual personality through her paintings.