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Joseph Smith Daguerreotype death mask photograph painting

Joseph Smith Death Mask

Joseph Paint.jpg

Joseph Smith Death Mask Painting

reconstruction restoration

On the left is a recently re-discovered locket daguerreotype that is believed to be Joseph Smith Junior. It has been under review by experts for nearly two years, and was first published July 21, 2022. I believe it is genuine. The face is consistent with the death mask. The clothing and hairstyle are both accurate to the Regency period. The man has light eyes and light hair, as described by his family and friends, and he bears a strong resemblance to his family members.

More importantly, the locket has a fairly well documented provenance. 

Joseph Smith III wrote a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune on March 10, 1910, stating that a photographer named Lucian Foster had taken Joseph's photograph shortly before his death in 1844.

Emma Hale Smith Bidamon left it to her son

Joseph Smith III, who gave it to his daughter

Emma Josepha Smith, who gave it to her brother (from another mother) and RLDS prophet

Frederick Madison Smith, who left it to his daughter

Lois Smith Larsen, who left it to her son

Daniel Madison Larsen


The locket is also seen in several historical photos of Smith family members.


In 1869, Bertha Madison Smith, who married Joseph Smith III, is seen wearing it in a portrait, hanging from a chain.

Emma Josepha Smith, Joseph III’s eldest daughter, wore it in her wedding portrait In 1875, again in an 1879 "carte-de-visite" photograph, and once more in 1910. That's four times over 40 years that it is documented in possession of the Smith family before its 1992 re-emergence and 2020 opening. 

With such a well documented trail of ownership, and close resemblance to the death mask, paintings, and family members, there is little doubt that the man pictured is Joseph Smith Jr.

You can learn more about the locket and research supporting it being Joseph in the videos below.

Here are some renders that I hope will help in the authentication process for this daguerreotype.

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