Friday, July 22, 2011

Carl Christian Anton Christensen - An Early Pioneer of Mt. Pleasant and Popular Artist


Carl Christian Anton Christensen (November 28, 1831July 3, 1912). Better known as C.C.A. Christensen. He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and studied at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen. In 1850 he joined the LDS Church and subsequently served as a missionary in Norway and his native Denmark. In 1857 he immigrated to Utah, traveling with the Christiansen Handcart Company.  He was a skilled painter and decorator and decorated many homes in pioneer Utah. He is best known for his Mormon Panorama, a series of 23 large paintings that depict the history of the church. He came to Mt. Pleasant in 1859 and was one of its first settlers.  

History of Mt. Pleasant p. 32 by Hilda Madsen Longsdorf

On page 49 of the History of Mt. Pleasant we see that C.C.A. Christensen donated 10 (hours or days) of labor  5 teams and 5 wagons for the building of the Mt. Pleasant Fort.

 And page 173 we find:  Madsen and Anderson continued to operate the theatre and dance hall on the second floor of the brick building, (Old  ZCMI) and here the public witnessed Shakespearean plays by John S. Lindsay and Company, also other high class companies, home dramatics, etc., as well as the C. C. A. Christensen's panoramas, minstrel shows, sleight of hand performances, hypnotism, etc., and many heated political rallies, setting forth free trade, tariff on wool, etc.

The scenery for the hall was painted by C. C. A. Christensen, a very popular artist. Music for the dances was mostly furnished by the Peter Almertz orchestra, consisting of John Waldermar, Rebecca Beckstrom, Bent Hansen, and others. Brigham Lee was floor manager and prompter. The east room of the building was used as the city council headquarters. On top of the building had been arranged seats, and at daybreak on holidays the Brass Band assembled; their music could be clearly heard in the distance, as the stars and stripes were unfurled. It had been common for the band, in their band wagon, to serenade the city, and they were usually treated with plenty of home-made beer and refreshments.

History of Mt. Pleasant by Hilda Madsen Longsorf p. 173

In the fall of 1869 and on through 1870, a regularly organized Home Dramatic Company furnished the scenery by donation of the members, and Brother C. C. A. Christensen, of Ephraim, painted the pieces.

                                 By Malvina Crane, 1926

The first general gathering place I remember was the Social Hall-still standing on the southwest corner of the square. Later, Yeppa Jessen built a larger house two blocks east, which at once became the most popular place in the little community. This hall had a platform in the east end, which .our theatrical troop could use as a stage, as soon as suitable scenery could be bought from C. C. A. Christensen, a local celebrity.

History of Mt. Pleasant by Hilda Madsen Longsorf  pp. 303-304


In 1862 Christensen did stage painting for a theatre in Springville, Utah.
The first major art work that Christensen undertook while in Utah was a commission from Dimick B. Huntington to do a collection of paintings from the Bible and Book of Mormon, in collaboration with Dan Weggeland.
Christensen is best known for his Mormon Panorama, a series of 23 large paintings that depict the history of the church. Christensen also painted scenes from the Book of Mormon such as Nephi and Zoram Return with the Record. There was a whole series of Book of Mormon paintings. They were originally issued by the Sunday School for use in classrooms and were latter issued in lithography form.
Christensen began touring with the 175 feet (53 m)-long Mormon panorama in 1878. Christensen would transport it about UtahIdaho and Wyoming, giving presentations along with the panorama. He did this during the winter when he was not busy working on his farm.
 After Christensen's death the panorama was stored away. Many years latter it was discovered again and brought back to light, partly by the efforts of Boyd K. Packer. It would gain its fullest recognition almost a century latter when it would be showed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
Christensen also painted some of the murals in the Manti and St. George Temples. Christensen also did paintings for the Manti Tabernacle.
Another theme of some of Christensen's paintings was Manti and its surroundings.
Christensen often collaborated with Dan Weggeland in his work in Utah.

Other Utah activities

During his first days in Utah, Christensen found little time to paint. He did various odd jobs such as laying brick and burning charcoal as well as farming.
Christensen translated the lyrics of many LDS hymns into Danish. Some of his translated texts are still in use. Christensen also wrote poetry and contributed to Bikuben. Latter he would serve as an editor of that publication. He was also a coauthor of the History of the Scandinavian Mission.
Christensen was an instructor in drawing and Danish at the Sanpete Stake Academy (now Snow College).
Christensen served a second mission from 1865-1868. He went on a mission to Denmark from 1887-1889 during which he worked as the editor of the Scandinaviens Stjerne.
Information taken from Wikipedia:  

Carl Christian Anton Christensen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

File:The Hill Cumorah by C.C.A. Christensen.jpeg

"The Hill Cumorah" by C.C.A. Christensen depicting Joseph Smith, Jr. receiving the golden plates from Moroni.

The following song written by C. C. A. Christensen
was sung by Fred Christensen and Peter Monsen.


    My Brethren and my Sisters dear,
   And for all whom I now appear,
  A little song you now shall hear
   About Mount Pleasant City,

From Brigham Young we got the word,
 To organize and build a fort
And then in unison we went forth
To build Mount Pleasant City.

Here worked every man and ox,
Some mixed the mud and laid the rocks,
 While others hauled poles and logs,
To build Mount Pleasant city.
I'll tell you how the work was done,
It was because we all were as one.
And common interest pushed us on,
To make a home and city.

We grubbed and plowed the land below,
And while we worked, the grain would grow, 
And then harvest came you know
Abundantly and pretty.

We plenty had for man and ox,
And there the Fort stood, built of rocks,
 A unit then and not of blocks,
Was then Mount Pleasant city.

We lived within, with each a room,
In which the spinning wheel and loom
Was the woman's pride and boon,
For industry and beauty.

And where a man had cows and sheep, 
And prospects for a crop to reap, 
Contented and happy he could sleep
 Because he did his duty.

But that was fifty years ago,
And times will changes bring you know,
And that we see, is even so
Here in Mount Pleasant City.

page 193  History of Mt. Pleasant by Hilda Madsen Longsdorf 

Painting of the tarring and feathering of Joseph Smith by C.C.A. Christensen.

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