During his lifetime, renowned artist and illustrator Arnold Friberg painted a variety of themes and subjects. He is most noted for his religious and patriotic works. During the 1950s, Friberg was commissioned to paint 12 classic scenes from the Book of Mormon. He is also well known for his 15 paintings for Cecil B. DeMille's film, "The Ten Commandments." In connection with Mormon Times' article about the story behind Friberg's Book of Mormon works, here is a list of some of his religious paintings. Our thanks to Friberg Fine Art for sharing his art. For more on the paintings, visit Friberg Fine Art.
Adele Cannon Howells, general president of the LDS Church's primary from 1943-1951, commissioned Friberg to do the Book of Mormon paintings to mark the 50th year of "The Children's Friend." Unfortunately, she died before Friberg could complete a sketch.
This painting was the first in the series. Friberg completed it in 1952.
Friberg said in an interview that "the muscularity in my paintings is only an expression of the spirit within."
"When I paint Nephi, I’m painting the interior, the greatness, the largeness of spirit. Who knows what he looked like? I’m painting a man who looks like he could actually do what Nephi did.”
Friberg completed the first eight Book of Mormon paintings in the early 1950s.
Friberg made Nephi strong, not only in body but in spiritual power, as his bullying brothers soon learned.
Because the Book of Mormon scenes had never been painted before, Friberg used his imagination and creativity. Little did he know that one day the LDS Church would insert these paintings in copies of the Book of Mormon and send them worldwide.
The man responsible for baptizing Friberg's family became his model for Abinadi more than 30 years later.
Rather than a picture of Alma preaching, Friberg chose to paint the tranquil scene of baptism.
In the Book of Mormon, Ammon is described as "a strong and mighty man." Friberg believed he had to be to do the superhuman deeds he accomplished.
When this picture was being considered, Friberg said it raised a problem concerning Moroni's writing on the Title of Liberty: Should the words be written in English or Hebrew?
Some wanted him to write the words of the scripture on the flag in English, but Friberg asked his friend, Rabbi Cardon, to write the words as they would have appeared at the time of Lehi and Jeremiah.
Some criticized Friberg for placing a horse in this painting because there was little proof of horses in ancient America. But the Book of Mormon has some references to horses, and because Friberg loved the animal, he couldn't resist including one in the 12 Book of Mormon paintings.
Friberg's intention with this painting was to capture the powerful drama of this epic event.
"One strong voice for Christ was the prophet Samuel the Lamanite. He proclaimed not only the coming of the Savior, but boldly foretold the signs, and even the very time of his birth and death," Friberg wrote.
"Here we witness the violent determination of his enemies to silence him."
In this piece, Friberg sought to express in paint the transcendent spiritual glory of the wondrous thing that happened there that day. He painted the divine figure so high in the air to fulfill the written description, and yet small enough to avoid any criticism of trying to paint a likeness of the risen Lord, according to his book, "Classic Scenes from the Book of Mormon."
The last for paintings in the series of 12 were completed in the late 1950s, after he had worked with Cecil B. DeMille on "The Ten Commandments."
The blood-stained flag shown leaning against the tree is the same one Friberg had raised by Captain Moroni.
"It seems only natural that they would have saved and nurtured that old flag," Friberg wrote. "Knowing it was the end, they might well have said one to another, 'We weren't worthy to live under that flag, but now, at least like men, we can die under it.'"
Previously titled "The Risen Lord," this was a non-commissioned painting by Friberg depicting the risen Lord in America. He said it could easily illustrate either the Bible or Book of Mormon appearances by the Savior.
Although this scene is well known, Friberg wanted to contribute his own version of the nativity.
Friberg hoped this painting captured the humble men caught up in the awesome glory of the scene recorded in St. Luke.
Friberg thought many people had a humorous concept of camels, but he saw the desert beasts as majestic animals.
Other paintings of this biblical scene always picture the storm, but Friberg believed the divine power to still the sea was more dramatic than the storm.
Many imagined this event as taking place in a swamp, but Cecil B. DeMille insisted that the princess would bathe in a lovely architectural setting.
Cecil B. DeMille was so impressed with Friberg's Brother of Jared painting, he asked the artist to paint Moses before the burning bush in similar fashion.
This is how Friberg imagined Moses presided over the first passover.
This was one of many concept pictures Friberg painted for the epic motion picture "The Ten Commandments."
This painting depicts Moses receiving the 10 commandments on Mount Sinai. Friberg completed this work in 1956.
Friberg finished this painting, which depicts Moses and Joshua on Mount Nebo, in 1956.
The biblical quotation in this picture was DeMille's favorite scripture because it tied the Old and New Testaments together.