LeConte Stewart: Mormon Artist
LeConte Stewart was a prolific artist and an effective art educator. He primarily painted landscapes of rural Utah but also painted portraits and murals.
Stewart was born in Glenwood, Utah, on April 15, 1891. He began his college studies intending to become a teacher. He also studied art by attending the Art Students League in Woodstock, New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Chester Springs.
Stewart made a career of both art and art instruction. He accepted a teaching position in Kaysville, the small town that became both his home and studio. The school had no art program at the time, so he started teaching art to students on his lunch hour. He also taught monthly classes to elementary teachers. He taught in the Murray City schools, the Salt Lake schools, the Davis County schools, and the Ogden schools.
In 1938, Stewart became the head of the art department at the University of Utah and remained in the position until his retirement in 1956.
He loved the small towns, farms, deserts, and rugged landscapes of Utah, which he painted primarily in oils. He often used an impressionistic style. He painted rapidly. According to a plaque in the Kaysville Gallery of Art, each Saturday he painted a 24-by-30-inch picture in the morning and another one in the afternoon. Between he would paint four smaller studies, making six paintings on average. During his lifetime he created over 7,000 pieces of art using watercolor, oil, charcoal, and pastel. He created etchings, linocuts, and lithographs.
Stewart painted several murals for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he was a member. Some of these are found in the Laie Hawaii Temple, the Cardston Alberta Temple, and the Mesa Arizona Temple.
He married Zipporah Layton and his home and studio were located in Kaysville, Utah. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He died in Kaysville on June 6, 1990.
Utah governor Michael Leavitt declared November 7, 2002, as LeConte Stewart Day. Stewart’s work was exhibited in Salt Lake City from July 21, 2011 to January 15, 2012. The exhibit was hosted jointly by the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Church History Museum of the Church of Jesus Christ.