“I was getting ready for bed after a hard day and suddenly in my mind’s eye I saw all the presidents of the church gathered together in the celestial room and the Savior was instructing them,” recorded Doc Christensen, LDS illustrator, in October 1978.
No other illustrator had yet attempted a portrait of all the prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a setting like the Salt Lake Temple.
The first version of the painting was completed when Spencer W. Kimball was a prophet, but was also different from the contemporary version because it had all the prophets sitting with the Savior instructing them in front. The painting took two long months to complete, and then Doc sent a print to President Kimball as a gift.
Sadly, the painting was returned with the answer that there was no appropriate place to display the painting. In the six months following the event, Doc came to an understanding concerning President Kimball’s decision, and decided to repaint the picture with only the prophets.
With the debut of the painting, “Portrait of the Prophets,” in 1979, Doc also made his debut in the LDS community as an artist.