Artistic Ties: C.C.A. Christensen

Thursday, March 14, 2013











Carl Christian Anton (C.C.A.) Christensen was my Great- great- great grandfather. He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1831. He studied at the Royal Academy of Art -which still exists in today. He served his mission in Denmark and Norway. While on his mission, he was actually put in prison twice because the government disliked the church and it's teachings. He met his wife Elsie in Liverpool, England. They got engaged and had their sights set on moving to Utah with the other saints who were making their way there. They were encouraged to marry before leaving, to make the journey somewhat easier. So they did and then traveled by boat (The Westmoreland) to New York, traveled by railroad to Iowa City, then joined the Christian Christiansen handcart company and made their way to Ephraim, Utah.

When he arrived in Utah, his artistic skills weren't needed much so he became a housepainter, and did odd jobs like brick-laying, as well as farming.

He was then commissioned to do a series of paintings based on the Book of Mormon. He began painting many scenes from it. Then he did a large series of 23 paintings- 175 ft long- which depicted a panoramic of the history of the church- the early pioneers and their story and trek West. He would do tours throughout Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho with these paintings, and have a presentation to go along with it. He also did murals in the Manti and St. George temple, which I have yet to see.

After his death, the panoramic was stored away and forgotten about until it was once again discovered (by a relative of mine I think) in a barn, all wrapped up with all of these other paintings he had done. After it's rediscovery, the panorama was featured at The Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City.

My grandpa actually has an original of his, which is always fun to see. I know that specific skill-sets aren't always inherited, but I like to think that my artistic inclinations and passion for anything Scandinavian, come from him.


8 comments:

  1. You have a rich artistic heritage. And you have so much talent, Michelle! Thanks for sharing it. Bob

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  2. Just stumbled across your blog while looking at C.C.A paintings.C.C.A is also my great, great, great grandfather (his wife Eliza is my 3x great grandmother). It is interesting how much artistic talent runs in the family!

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  3. Hi Michelle--looks like we're cousins! I wanted to recommend the book "CCA Christensen: 1831-1912 Mormon Immigrant Artist" to you as a nice reference to CCA's work. The book is out of print but you can get a copy on abebooks.com. It is green and has a replication of CCA's "Handcart Pioneers" on the cover. The biographical information is more detailed and accurate than what I have seen elsewhere online (including wikipedia). The book is the closest thing we have to a catalogue raisonné for CCA (that I know of). I think you will really appreciate the broad view of CCA's work that it provides. Keep up your own excellent work! Looks like you certainly have CCA in your blood.

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    1. I can't believe I didn't even see this. Thank you for writing! I will for sure look that book up. Thank you!

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  5. Are you -- and by extension C.C.A.-- related to the (Clayton) Christensens of Boston?

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    1. I have met Clayton, and I'm sure we are distantly related, but I haven't looked into it. Not immediate family anyway :)

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