George Beard: Mormon Photographer and Painter
George Beard was a multitalented artist, working in photography, painting, and watercolors.
He was born on December 21, 1854, in Yeardsley cum Waley, near Whaley Bridge in Cheshire, England. He was the youngest of nine children born to Thomas Beard, a coal miner, and Ellen Elizabeth Platt Clark Beard. Beard’s parents and oldest brother were baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February 1852. George immigrated to Zion with his mother and two sisters on June 20, 1868. His mother was injured on the ship and did not survive; she was buried at sea. George and his sisters rode a train to Wyoming, and from there traveled by wagon with the John G. Holman Company and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 25, 1868. They then settled in Coalville, Utah.
George remained in Coalville his entire life and managed the Coalville Cooperative Mercantile Institution. He was also mayor from 1891 to 1892. He was a state legislator beginning in 1895. He also lead a choir and produced and directed community musicals at the Coalville Opera House. He also painted scenery for the productions.
He sketched as a child, and his first paintings were watercolors. He was self-taught and was influenced by John Hafen, Danquart Weggeland, Carl Anderson, Alfred Lambourne, and most stylistically by Thomas Moran. He was taught informally by the noted landscape photographer Charles Roscoe Savage. He was a skilled photographer and preferred capturing the Uintah Mountains near his home. He took numerous photographs of his family in their travels throughout the western United States mountains. His photographs are held in a collection at Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library.
Beard married Lovenia Bullock on March 31, 1877, and they were the parents of eight children. He died on October 3, 1944. Ralph Jordan, a Deseret News columnist praised Beard’s paintings, but then declared: “He’s also a photographer . . . or more accurately, an artist with a camera. In more than 20 years of handling pictures for newspapers, I’ve never seen anything like his camera studies of scenes in his beloved mountains and valleys. . . . George Beard, of Coalville, is a man the world should know.”
J. Kenneth Davies, George Beard: Mormon Pioneer Artist with a Camera (Provo, UT: The Author, 1980?).