Your Sunday Brunch (Before-After Church) Special (#4). Utah Artist James T. Harwood, 3: Painting, Marriage and Marriage.

So far (see parts 1, and 2) I’ve told some of the story of James T. Harwood’s parents and in particular his father, who played a rather large role in the way James T. saw the world, and particularly Mormonism both as institution and proximate realization.

James T. Harwood was born April 8, 1860 in Lehi, Utah. About age 12 J. T. began to work in his father’s business at the time (he was back in the harness-making trade). But his father notes that J. T.’s interests were in drawing and painting. The father felt this was pretty frivolous and was unlikely to lead to a workable profession.

J. T. worked in his father’s shop until 1885 when he left to attend the San Francisco School of Design. After 18 months J. T. won a gold medal in drawing and with some credentials returned to Utah in 1887. Opening a studio in Salt Lake, he intended to get enough cash to study in Paris. By August 1888, he’d made the required amount and was off to the Continent. While in Paris, Harwood continued a romance that had begun in Utah with one of his students, Harriet Richards. Richards was the granddaughter of Mormon luminary Willard Richards.

Harriet, c1890:

The commonalities along with other attractions drew the two together and in June 1891 they were married in Paris. Harriet’s parents weren’t jumping for joy (son of an ex-Mormon and all). J. T. passed the exam in the St. Julian and went on to Beaux Arts where he had work accepted at the Salon (the first of Utah artists to have the distinction). Some of the stuff there scandalized even Parisians but it was the Everest of Art at the time. The Harwood’s returned to Salt Lake in 1892 where he established another studio and eventually became a public school art instructor. Ten years later he would return to Europe. The Harwood’s would spend some time in Italy and J. T. would paint a number of images of the countryside and other things. Returning to Utah once again, Harwood would become a Professor at the University of Utah and Chair of the Department. His work evolved from a kind of Dutch Realism to Impressionism. Here are a few more pieces by Harwood from various periods, all presently in the BYU Museum of Art Collection.
Early Nude Study done in SLC (the subject almost certainly a Kevin Barney ancestor):

French Landscape (1907):

His father’s barn (1908):

Harbor at Garda, Italy (1938):

Check the other parts of the post for more familiar Harwood images.

Harriet would die in 1921 and the event pushed J. T. into some depression. Six years later he met a young literature student, Frances Ione Godwin from Chicago. Despite the scandalous age difference of 47 years, and the fact that Harwood was approaching 70 at the time, they were married in June 1929. The Richards side of the family looked askance at the union as did the now grown children of the first marriage. This had some interesting consequences that I won’t go into here. But, reenergized, Harwood resigned his appointment at the university and moved to Paris once again. Harwood and Godwin produced two children and J. T. produced considerable work: paintings, prints, etchings and watercolors. Harwood would die in 1940 in Utah, Ione (as she preferred -she became a librarian after Harwood’s death) lived to age 96, passing away in Honolulu (her son James V. was professor of astronomy at the University of Hawaii.)

Whether J. T. would have ended up a “Mormon” artist if his father had not lost faith in Mormonism is of course uncertain.[1] And in that case it’s not certain that his European experiences would have been the same (he moved very freely in society). But whatever contrafactual is proposed, Harwood supplied important, consistently employed images of faith and history to Mormonism. Besides, his *life* is a fascinating bit of Utah and Latter-day Saint history. There you have it.

[1] Harwood’s father had more heretical motives than polygamy, murder and politics. His accounts of Mormon saloon patronage and public drunkenness in the territory are brief but graphic (Harwood Sr. was a teetotaler). He doesn’t pull any punches. It appears doubtful that he’s exaggerating much here. At the time he had little motive for doing so. It was what he saw as the coverup by local leaders that bugged him seemingly. In any case he cites a number of reasons for his own disaffection.


  1. Great post.

  2. Finally, having a few minutes I went back and read this entire series. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for putting this together.

  3. Thanks Smb and SteveP.

  4. very interesting…I just went back and read the entire series as well.

  5. Very interesting post!

  6. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Wow! What a life! I often wish I could feel such freedom! I haven’t yet read the other posts, so maybe you answer it there, but what was it about his personality that decided not to listen to his father’s notions of work and frivolity and pursue his heart’s desire? I admire such strength! How many children did Harwood and Harriet have? What a family history! Thank you for sharing a bit of it and his artwork with us!

  7. Patricia, I think it was a combination of demonstrated natural talent and a fairly liberal parenting scheme. While Harwood Sr. was out of sorts with Mormonism, he made no rule regarding what his children might do in terms of religion and I think they had the same philosophy toward JT’s professional aspirations. Harriet had 5 children.

  8. Kevin Barney ancestor, FTW.

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