Reuben Kirkham

(Famous artist, painter and photographer)
A Mormon convert, Reuben Kirkham was born in Spaulding, England in October 1844 and emigrated with his parents in 1849
(they weren’t members of the LDS faith). He came into the valley in 1868 settling in Salt Lake City. He was trained as a house
painter, but enjoyed finer arts. At first he found work painting scenery for the old Salt Lake Theatre; that experience, along with
the painting of panoramas with his friend Alfred Lambourne, led him to work on a number of large canvases (12-25 feet long and
6-12 feet tall). These canvases were rolled on poles and would be used as rolling backdrops for plays and stories told in the theater.
They called their work “Across the Continent; or, From the Atlantic to the Pacific.” The sixty-plus canvases were supplemented with
moving water effects and a fully rigged ship. Viewers in Salt Lake loved it so much the artists took the canvases on a tour back East.
He also painted “Wilds of the Wasatch” which hangs in the Salt Lake City Courthouse and a detailed likeness of Brigham Young.
He married Echo Lovina Squires in 1876 and they moved to Logan in 1877 where he set up a shop. Besides being an excellent
photographer, he was an artist, doing most of his work in oils. Among his paintings are “The Right Hand Fork of Logan Canyon”,
“Morning after the Storm”, and another called “Leaves from my Sketchbook” in which he attempted to paint scenes from his
dreams. Some of his paintings have been preserved in the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, UT. He also helped paint murals on the walls of the Logan Temple.
He was a member of a dramatic club and played in a brass band. Reuben spent the last years of his life (1884-1886) painting and traveling with nineteen Book of
Mormon panoramas of his own invention; and painted the murals in the Logan Temple. There are many newspaper articles about him and a book or two about his
life and work. It was said of his work “His landscapes possess the decided merit of originality. An ardent lover of the sublime and picturesque in nature he endeavored
to paint the most stupendous subjects that the scenery of Utah can suggest.” Ogden Standard Examiner, 1924
The Woodcutter’s dinner was listed at $60,000 in 2019. There is a book written about his life and artwork. Reuben Kirkham – Pioneer Artist by Donna Poulton. 2012

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