C.C.A. Christensen, 1865
The temple was the most significant religious edifice in Nauvoo and represented the culmination of Joseph Smith’s work. Situated on a hilltop, it could be seen from twenty miles away. As rooms of the temple were completed, they were dedicated so that the Saints could participate in important religious ordinances. However, before the temple was completely finished, most of the Nauvoo people were forced to leave the city. One week following the dedication, the temple was closed and entrusted to a caretaker. The sky is a painted metaphor of the plight of the early Saints. A patch of bright blue appearing through the clouds suggests the brief but glorious period when the temple fulfilled its purpose. The resumed persecution that eventually drove the Saints from Nauvoo is symbolized by the encroachment of the dark sky upon the white clouds.