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Arnold Friberg's 'Eight Faces of Moses' to be displayed in Salt Lake

Published: Tuesday, July 15 2014 12:10 p.m. MDT

Arnold Friberg's "Original Eight Faces of Moses" paintings will be on display in Utah.

RR Auction

SALT LAKE CITY — Arnold Friberg's "Original Eight Faces of Moses" paintings will be on display Tuesday and Wednesday.

The paintings were created for the 1956 film "The Ten Commandments," according to a news release from RR Auction in Boston. The unsigned "eight faces" were recently discovered and attributed to Friberg by authenticator and Salt Lake resident Lawrence Jeppson.

"The paintings were considered 'lost' and we feel that bringing them 'home' to Utah was certainly extremely appropriate," Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction, wrote in an email Tuesday. "We are excited to share them even for such a short time."

Friberg, an American artist, spent a large portion of his life in Utah and died in Salt Lake on July 1, 2010. He is famous for his religious and historical paintings, including "The Prayer at Valley Forge." Friberg's paintings of various scenes from the Book of Mormon are well-known among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Friberg worked as chief artist and designer for Cecil B. DeMille, director of "The Ten Commandments" (1956). According to the RR Auction news release, Friberg designed the paintings to be used as makeup templates for the film's star, Charlton Heston, who played Moses. Each "face" of Moses depicts a certain stage in the prophet's life — stages that were then recreated by Wally and Frank Westmore, makeup artists for the film.

Since the late 1960s, the paintings have been in the possession of the Westmore family and attributed to Wally Westmore himself.

The paintings are scheduled to be auctioned off in Massachusetts on Saturday, July 19 by RR Auction.

"Together, the Eight paintings tell a very large story," Livingston said in an email. "The public will be able to view all of these paintings and visit with Lawrence Jeppson, who knew Friberg quite well."

According to Jeppson, the paintings were originally put up for auction in Boston by Wally Westmore's grandson, who assumed his grandfather was the author of the unsigned artwork. Eventually, the creator of the artwork became a disputed topic, and the auctionhouse reached out to Jeppson for his expertise on Friberg's works.

Jeppson compared the handwriting and style of the eight Moses faces to Friberg's earlier works. In addition, Jeppson compared a painting of Friberg's depicting three of these Moses faces — signed by Friberg and dedicated to DeMille. Jeppson referred to the portraits as "unmistakably Friberg."

The "Original Eight Faces of Moses" collection will be on display Tuesday, July 15 and Wednesday, July 16 from noon to 8 p.m. The event is free and will be held in the Social Room at Zion Summit Condominiums, 241 N. Vine Street.

Bidding will take place in Boston, over the phone or through invaluable.com on Saturday, July 19 at 1 p.m. EST. The estimated worth of the collection is between $600,000 and $800,000.

Email: kguderian@deseretnews.com

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