The original 33" x 58" oil on canvas painting of Nauvoo - The Beautiful, is one of a series temple drawings and paintings by the artist Chad S. Hawkins. In 1989, at the age of seventeen, Chad started this unique temple series, becoming the original LDS artist to involve hidden spiritual images in his artwork. Preparation for this painting began soon after the temple’s groundbreaking in October 1999. To assure an accurate painting, Chad visited Nauvoo, interviewed some of the temple’s craftsmen, and studied the temple’s blueprints and landscaping plans. On many occasions the artist personally consulted with the temple’s architect to discuss the temple’s features. Relying on these resources, Chad was able to produce the first painting of the rebuilt Nauvoo Illinois Temple.
Under the guidance of the Prophet Joseph, Nauvoo in the 1840s became one of the largest cities in the state of Illinois, and was commonly referred to as “The City of Joseph.” The Prophet Joseph worked with his own hands, quarrying the stone for its walls when his enemies were not pursuing him. Two years before the temple’s completion, Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred at Carthage jail in June, 1844. To honor that great prophet, Chad has placed Joseph Smith to the right of the temple in the landscaping, viewing the stately building and holding the Book of Mormon. The trees, landscaping, and flowers were painted as they would appear in the month of June. The time of day portrayed in this painting and the time noted on the temple’s clocks are both depicting 5:16 p.m., the time of the prophet’s martyrdom. The hidden image and the season depicted in this painting has additional significance considering the temple was dedicated on June 27, 2002, commemorating the anniversary of the Prophet’s martyrdom.