Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hidden clues in a photo.

While studying a poster size print of the photo (Joseph Smith Jr.) in a meeting with the LDS Church, Head Photo Archivist Bill Slaughter pointed out that something seemed off with his left eye. My husband and I were in agreement. We wondered if perhaps he had a lazy eye, the gaze of each eye appeared off from the other. We noted the large scar over his eyelid and wondered if it was a contributing factor. A couple of months later while attending an eye appointment for my daughter my husband decided to take the poster in and get a professional opinion. The Optometrist informed my husband that from what he could tell it was not a lazy eye but a condition called Esotropia, which is a form of strabismus, in which one or both eyes turn inward. The doctor noted that it could have easily been caused by the apparent injury to the eye, noted in both the death mask and photo. The doctor also brought to his attention that the eyelid had a pronounced droop in comparison to the right eye, which was indicative of a severe injury/trama to the muscle.

Please note the following image has had the contrast enhanced as well as a reversed image for viewing. Some find it easier to view the issues in which I am speaking about if the photo is flipped.

Click on image to enlarge.

After hearing all of this, I began searching to see if any of the artists that had drawn or painted Joseph had translated these issues into their work. Oddly, out of my huge digital collection I could only find profile pictures of Joseph done during his lifetime. This got me thinking, why did he not pose straight forward? I understand why Sutcliffe Maudsley drew his images this way. He was known as a profilist, but what about the others? While this is just my opinion, I wonder if perhaps Joseph was a bit self conscious about his eye, or maybe he felt his profile was more distinguishing. Who knows?

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