“Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin.”
– Author Willa Cather (1873 – 1947)

Artists often use their creative energies to share their convictions and beliefs; for some, this includes their relationship to the divine and their thoughts about meaning in this world and beyond. In this room, artists Lee Udall Bennion, Marianne Stokes, Minerva Teichert, Dorothy Weir, and Ultra Violet share their interpretations of scripture and their responses to sacred spaces, events, and ideas.

Ella Peacock, Samuel the Lamanite
Ella Peacock (1905-1999), Samuel the Lamanite, no date, oil on canvas, 24 1/2 x 20 1/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Ella Peacock, 1987.

Following the narrative found in the Book of Helaman, Peacock portrays Samuel the Lamanite standing on the city wall to foretell the coming of Jesus Christ. Separated from the jeering crowd below, the prophet boldly ascends the city wall to fulfill his holy call and cry repentance to the people. Although he is alone in his task, Samuel seems unfazed and undaunted by the shouts. His gaze remains lifted up towards the heavens as he steps up onto the wall to begin his sermon.

Ella Peacock and her husband were baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1962. Peacock grew up in a large Methodist family and first learned about the church as a teenager during a trip to Salt Lake City to visit a distant relative, the apostle Richard R. Lyman. Three decades later she and her husband William met with missionaries and were baptized.

Marianne Stokes "Angels Entertaining the Holy Child"
Marianne Preindlsberger Stokes (1855-1927), Angels Entertaining the Holy Child, c.1893, oil on canvas. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Roy and Carol Christensen, 2015.

This moment of tender respite by Austrian artist Marianne Preindlsberger Stokes celebrates Mary’s devotion as nurturer of the Messiah. Clothed in rich blue robe—symbolic of her queenly role as chosen mother—Mary slumbers, her hands still cradling her precious Son. While the young mother rests, two young angels serenade the wide-eyed Holy Infant. The sensitive portrayal of the young Mary emphasizes the weight of her sacred stewardship as mother and guardian of the Holy Infant.

Marianne Stokes is regarded as an important female artist in the late Victorian era. This sizeable canvas was included in the 1893 Royal Academy exhibition, showcased between pieces by John Singer Sargent and Henry Moore. Stokes’ piece was celebrated for its rich, vibrant paint and its strong emotive quality.

Minerva Teichert, "Queen Esther"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Queen Esther, 1939, oil on canvas, 65 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

The Old Testament story of Esther relates how the young Jewish queen placed her own life in danger in order to save the lives of her people. When this was painted in 1939, Jewish people across Europe were facing terrible persecution from Nazi dictatorship during World War II. Teichert was influenced by the situation in Europe, as she painted two more paintings with Jewish subjects in this same year. She depicts Esther at the moment when the Persian king chooses her as his bride. Set apart from the other women, Queen Esther wearing a simple white dress and veil in contrast to the heavily ornamented women standing behind her. The border, somewhat uneven since Teichert didn’t always use rulers, includes the words “Esther is Chosen Queen.”

Teichert was drawn to stories of women in the scriptures and honored many of them in her paintings. For this painting the artist used a local Cokeville resident, Betty Curtis, as the model. Teichert painted two versions of it and presented one to Betty, for her wedding.

 

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Ultra Violet, Apocalyptic Angel
Ultra Violet (Isabelle Collin Dufresne) (1935-2014), Apocalyptic Angel, 2000, print. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gifted to the BYU Fine Arts Department in 1997 by the artist. Gifted to the BYU Museum of Art, 2014.

At the age of 18, the French-born artist Isabelle Collin Dufresne moved to New York City to pursue the arts. There she began working with the famed Surrealist Salvador Dali and the Pop Artist Andy Warhol. Adopting her signature purple hair and makeup, for which she took the name Ultra Violet, she cultivated a celebrity persona and became one of the superstars of Andy Warhol’s Factory. In 1981, Ultra Violet was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the later years of her career, religious subject matter frequently appeared in her work. She was fascinated with the Book of Revelation and the angels of the apocalypse. These angels took many forms in her artwork, such as the Apocalyptic Angel here surrounded by a circle of rainbow-colored flames. She looms larger than our modern-day fighter jet planes and has power over them. Despite the promise of the upcoming apocalypse, Ultra Violet took comfort in the promise found in Doctrine & Covenants 38:30, “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”

Ella Peacock, Manti Chapel
Ella Peacock (1905-1999), Manti Chapel, no date, oil on canvas, 16 x 12. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1987.

Although Peacock primarily painted desert landscapes, she occasionally departed from her signature style to explore other local subjects. Here, Peacock paints the First Presbyterian Church of Manti. The First Presbyterian Church had historical significance to Manti: built in 1881 by Salt Lake architect Peter Van Houghton, it was a key landmark of the city. Though this chapel did not belong to Peacock’s own faith (she converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1962), her depiction of the chapel is inclusive. The Manti chapel was added to National Register of Historic Buildings in 1980.

The composition includes the surrounding buildings, showing the church not as a solitary structure but as an integral part of the city. With muted colors across the whole composition, Peacock presents a quick snapshot of Main Street in Manti.

Dorothy Weir Young, Sitting in the Abbey
Dorothy Weir Young (1890-1947), Sitting in the Abbey, no date, watercolor, 12 x 9 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

Dorothy Weir Young traveled abroad several times to study the art and architecture of Paris and other European cities. These visits informed her later art, such as these watercolor paintings. Conceived more as studies than final works, Young painted them from sketches done on sight at Chartres and other Gothic cathedrals during her travels. Despite their relatively small size, they immediately evoke a sense of the immense height and awe-inspiring atmosphere of these religious spaces through the inclusion of details such as soaring columns, elaborate vaulting, and clerestory windows. Young frequently includes small figures who sit in pews, visit in choir spaces, or stand quietly pondering; their modest presence reinforcing the vast sense of scale. The watercolors show her sensitivity to light and shadow, as well as her lifelong interest in architectural motifs.

Dorothy Weir Young, Visitors in Cathedral
Dorothy Weir Young (1890-1947), Visitors in Cathedral, no date, watercolor, 16 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

Dorothy Weir Young traveled abroad several times to study the art and architecture of Paris and other European cities. These visits informed her later art, such as these watercolor paintings. Conceived more as studies than final works, Young painted them from sketches done on sight at Chartres and other Gothic cathedrals during her travels. Despite their relatively small size, they immediately evoke a sense of the immense height and awe-inspiring atmosphere of these religious spaces through the inclusion of details such as soaring columns, elaborate vaulting, and clerestory windows. Young frequently includes small figures who sit in pews, visit in choir spaces, or stand quietly pondering; their modest presence reinforcing the vast sense of scale. The watercolors show her sensitivity to light and shadow, as well as her lifelong interest in architectural motifs.

Dorothy Weir Young, Chartres
Dorothy Weir Young (1890-1947), Chartres, 1931, watercolor, 10 5/8 x 8 5/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

Dorothy Weir Young traveled abroad several times to study the art and architecture of Paris and other European cities. These visits informed her later art, such as these watercolor paintings. Conceived more as studies than final works, Young painted them from sketches done on sight at Chartres and other Gothic cathedrals during her travels. Despite their relatively small size, they immediately evoke a sense of the immense height and awe-inspiring atmosphere of these religious spaces through the inclusion of details such as soaring columns, elaborate vaulting, and clerestory windows. Young frequently includes small figures who sit in pews, visit in choir spaces, or stand quietly pondering; their modest presence reinforcing the vast sense of scale. The watercolors show her sensitivity to light and shadow, as well as her lifelong interest in architectural motifs.

Dorothy Weir Young, Gothic Cathedral Interior
Dorothy Weir Young (1890-1947), Gothic Cathedral Interior, c.1920, watercolor, 11 7/16 x 8 15/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

Dorothy Weir Young traveled abroad several times to study the art and architecture of Paris and other European cities. These visits informed her later art, such as these watercolor paintings. Conceived more as studies than final works, Young painted them from sketches done on sight at Chartres and other Gothic cathedrals during her travels. Despite their relatively small size, they immediately evoke a sense of the immense height and awe-inspiring atmosphere of these religious spaces through the inclusion of details such as soaring columns, elaborate vaulting, and clerestory windows. Young frequently includes small figures who sit in pews, visit in choir spaces, or stand quietly pondering; their modest presence reinforcing the vast sense of scale. The watercolors show her sensitivity to light and shadow, as well as her lifelong interest in architectural motifs.

Lee Bennion, Daily Bread
Lee Udall Bennion (b.1956), Daily Bread, c.1990, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Gary Ernest and Judy A. Smith, 1994.

In His instructive “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus petitioned the Father to provide daily bread—a request that Heaven deliver the physical, emotional, and spiritual sustenance required for each day. Just as God extends His bounteous blessings to us, this woman likewise opens her arms to manifest the fruits of her devoted efforts.

The bread rests upon her apron, as if an altar upon which she acknowledges both blessings received and labors rendered. Her offering is not only a consecration to God, but is extended outward, perhaps to loved ones or those in need. In so doing, she becomes God’s instrument in giving nourishment to His children, an act of devotion and love toward all who partake. The woman is honorifically framed by a window and a profusion of flowers—symbols of abundance—reaching up as a crown for her offering.

 

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Teichert, Jesus at the Home of Mary and Martha
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Jesus at the Home of Mary and Martha, c.1935, oil on canvas, 46 x 70 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1943.

Teichert invites the viewer into this intimate domestic scene, showing the New Testament story from Luke 10:38-40 of the Savior teaching in the home of Mary and Martha. In Teichert’s imagination, a kind and patient Jesus expounds upon sacred scrolls of text. The glow around the head of Christ, as well as the additional light of a window directly behind him and his white clothing, emphasize his divine status. Mary is completely engrossed in the writings and his teachings, while Martha listens nearby holding a plate of food.

Both the lighting and the rounded overhead arch were influenced by Léon-Augustin Lhermitte’s painting Among The Humble which Teichert copied while studying at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1915. The thin application of paint, loose brushstrokes, and shallow space are all indicative of mural style painting, which Teichert adopted during her training in New York City.

Teichert, The House of the World
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), The House of the World, 1949-1951, oil on masonite, 36 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Holding the symbols of God’s love, Lehi waits for his family. His arm is an extension of the iron rod, which represents the word of God, demonstrating that a prophet’s words are from the Lord. Sariah precedes her younger sons. Overcome, either with joy or fatigue, she clings to the rod. Directly behind her is Nephi, who also grasps the rod while reaching out to her in concern. Sam holds onto Nephi and the rod.

Teichert reverses the expected assignment of light and dark. Lehi’s small group and much of the Tree of Life are shadowed, while the Great and Spacious Building glows alluringly. Its golden statues convey the status of its throngs of people, and its glory seems to surpass that of the tree. As in real life, the blessings of faith and obedience are sometimes not as immediately apparent or attractive as worldly pleasures.

Explore the other sections of A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists from the Collection

Landscapes: The World Around Us

Home & Scenes of Daily Life

Cities & Towns

Still Life & Beyond

Portraiture

View of the Gallery

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