MINERVA TEICHERT’S BOOK OF MORMON PAINTINGS
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), FLIGHT, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Teichert saw the Book of Mormon as a series of processions as families left for new lands and people departed from evil in search of righteousness. Flight shows Lehi’s family leaving Jerusalem for the wilderness, following God’s command. Though clustered closely together, the family is torn between religious convictions and unbelief. Lehi, Nephi, and Sam look steadfastly to the future as they depart into the wilderness, while Laman and Lemuel look back to Jerusalem. Sariah is placed between the two factions of her family, undoubtedly hoping to keep them unified in this great journey.
How do you depart from evil in your own life?
What ways can we keep our family unified, even when there may be discord, tension, or differing views?
(1 Nephi 2:1-5)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), TREASURES IN EXCHANGE FOR THE PLATES OF BRASS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
This depiction of Nephi and his brothers trying to buy the plates of brass clearly takes place in the Middle East, complete with camels and Mediterranean-inspired clothing, fabrics, and architectures. Lehi’s four sons are in the light, and Laban and his henchmen in the shadow, indicating that Laban’s intentions are unclear but probably shady. Nephi lifts a boldly-patterned blanket to reveal a pile of coins below, while Same elevates an earthenware vessel for inspection. Laman and Lemuel carefully move a particularly precious jar. By emphasizing Lehi’s riches, this painting underscores how much he and his family sacrificed to obey the Lord and obtain the plates of brass.
How does recognizing the affluence of Lehi’s family make their sacrifice seem even more significant?
Why does Lehi consider procuring the brass plates to be worth almost any sacrifice?
What sacrifices do you make to keep the Lord’s commandments? What blessings have you seen as a result of your sacrifices?
1 Nephi 3:22-24
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE LAW ON THE PLATES OF BRASS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Dressed in Laban’s armor, Nephi walks through the gate of the city carrying the brass plates followed by Laban’s servant, Zoram. Fearing Laban has discovered them, Nephi’s brothers flee to their camels. Teichert emphasizes the plates and their eternal significance through their exaggerated size. She skillfully contrasts the steadfastness of Nephi holding these plates—the all-important source of stability for him and his future people—with the confusion of the brothers on the right.
Zoram becomes part of Lehi’s family as they travel to the Promised Land, and is called a “true friend” to Nephi. What are qualities of a “true friend”?
How does this depiction of Nephi and his brothers make you feel about your relationship to the scriptures? Can you think of times when you felt confused—like Nephi’s brothers—, or when the scriptures provided needed balance in your life?
1 Nephi 4:19-20, 24-25, 28
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE HOUSE OF THE WORLD, C.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.
How does this depiction of the Great and Spacious Building differ from others you’ve seen?
How do you stay focused on reaching eternal goals when worldly pleasures sometimes appear to be more enticing?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), LEHI IN THE DESERT, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Completed in 1964, this piece was painted later—and is much larger—that the original works from the Book of Mormon series. Here, Teichert addresses some of the elements of daily life while Lehi’s family travels in the wilderness. This depicts a morning departure, so early that the moon is still visible in the sky. On the right, a child plays in the water while his mother hands her baby to Lehi. The day promises to be hot and dusty. Already a yellow haze has formed around the travelers in the background, in contrast to the cool, dark colors at the water’s edge. Some of the party have already set off on their camels, while a few remain at the oasis to top off the water jugs and finish loading strips of raw meat on the camels for drying in the desert sun. Nephi explains that during this time they did not use fire, but that the Lord made their food sweet without cooking. Teichert cleverly imagines that the family made large quantities of jerky (the Spanish word for jerky, charqui, appears in the foreground of the painting) to make the raw meat palatable during their travels.
Lehi’s family experienced many miracles and blessings in the wilderness, including the Liahona, instruction on how to build a ship, and protection. But, daily blessings and miracles—such as being able to eat raw meat in the wilderness—were just as crucial. What daily blessings and miracles do you notice in your day-to-day life?
1 Nephi 16:11-16 and 17 1-2, 12
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), LOADING THE SHIP, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Occupying the center of the painting is the ship that Nephi was commanded by the Lord to build. Once a point of contention and complaining, the ship has become a symbol of one family’s faith. Working together, Lehi’s posterity purposefully prepares for their long journey. At the right, women gracefully balance jars atop their heads in a procession of provisions. While some men organize supplies at the base of the ship, others hoist or carry the gathered necessities aboard. Women and children assemble in the shade of palm trees, waiting and perhaps enjoying the feel of solid ground beneath their feet before setting sail.
Had any of Lehi’s family ever seen the open ocean before? Certainly, none had ever constructed or piloted a ship. Yet, Teichert boldly points the prow of the ship toward the unknown, suggesting that reasonable fears cannot hinder faithful action.
(1 Nephi 18:6)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), LOVE STORY, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Teichert’s Book of Mormon paintings often focus on the women in the stories. Here she imaginatively portrays the daughters of the prophet Ishmael. As recorded, they left their life in Jerusalem to join Lehi’s family in the wilderness and become the wives of his sons. Although the Book of Mormon says little about the pairing of the young people, the artist has given the event an element of romance and glamour. This swirling scene of dancing girls, clashing cymbals, and jingling tambourines could perhaps be the betrothal celebration of Ishmael’s daughters. While the young men provide a musical accompaniment, the maidens in the center—clad in colorful costumes and jewelry—are the focus as they dance and celebrate.
Teichert’s focus on women continues throughout the Book of Mormon series. As you reflect on your favorite scripture stories, think about other people who may have been there besides those mentioned by name, including family members, children, servants, rulers, neighbors, and friends. Consider how the events in the scriptures would be told from their point of view.
1 Nephi 7:5 and 16:7-8
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), NEPHI BOUND, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
While sailing to the promised land, Nephi’s brothers, the sons of Ishmael, and their wives “began to make themselves merry,…even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither.” Nephi, fearing they would anger the Lord, spoke to them “with much soberness” (1 Nephi 18:9-10), an action to which the older brothers angrily responded. With the wind howling across the deck, Nephi’s wife and son plead for his release. Concerned that the compass no longer directs them, a man, possibly Sam, also begs, but to no avail. Impressively, Nephi—the center of this conflict—is an island of peace in spite of being bound, stripped to the waist, and whipped. In prayer, he relies on God as his source of serenity and deliverance.
How do you find peace in the midst of trouble, conflict, or even persecution?
1 Nephi 18:11-19
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE PROMISED LAND, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
“And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many dayswe did arrive at the promised land…” (1 Nephi 18:23)
The arrival of Lehi’s family in the Promised Land was a long-awaited blessing that required the sacrifice of material possessions, years of traveling in an unforgiving desert, and a precarious journey across the vast ocean. Teichert has imagined the family’s first exploration in this new land as a caravan of people and pack animals moving through a tropical forest. The lush foliage—described in exotic shades of green—gives way to a pristine water source in the foreground and gathers to create a dense and dark canopy above. Leading the way are four men carrying a single chest containing sacred objects, among which are the plates of brass and the Liahona. The family stays close together; some lead donkeys and llamas laden with belongings while others manage baskets, carry small children, or gracefully balance jars atop their heads. A solitary figure at the rear of the group keeps watch as a flock of sheep, symbols of the faithful followers of Christ, pace beside the group.
The Lord consecrates land as an inheritance to His faithful followers and their righteous descendants. There are many promised lands mentioned in scripture, however in the Book of Mormon the promised land often spoken of is the Americas. Take time today to think about how America has been and continues to be a land of promise.
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), NEPHI LEADS HIS FOLLOWERS INTO THE WILDERNESS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
In this work, Nephi and his family leave their original home in the Promised Land for another, fleeing Laman and Lemuel who continually try to kill Nephi and his followers.
Stories of people forced to leave their homes to find a new land where they can settle in peace is a recurring theme of the scriptures and of Teichert’s paintings. This exodus, led by Nephi, is reminiscent of the Israelites’ departure from Egypt. Nephi is followed by men bearing the sacred records. Here the people of Nephi travel at night with their herds and possessions, while some look back with nostalgia or fear. Teichert includes children who must also make this journey. The downy head of one child is just visible in its mother’s arms, while another child clings to his goat’s leash to keep pace through the dark.
What difficult decisions have you made in your life? How do you summon courage and faith when you are faced with difficult decisions or circumstances?
2 Nephi 5:5-12
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), NEPHI, THE BUILDER, FORGING SWORDS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Emphasizing the industriousness of Nephi’s people, the mural depicts a unique combination of activities—washing and hanging laundry, constructing the temple, and forging swords. This imagined scene draws on Nephi’s earlier description of using fire and a bellows to make tools (1 Nephi 17:9-11). The temple resembles a house, for it is the house of the Lord, designed, Nephi states, like the temple of Solomon but much plainer. Two figures ascend the temple stairs, their striped robes serving as mantles, perhaps a sign of priesthood authority. The mural stresses the unity essential to build a righteous society and notes the necessity of defense for the Nephites’ domestic tranquility.
Teicher painted this scene to illustrate the industriousness of Nephi’s people. What values are important to you?
2 Nephi 5:14-17
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), MOSIAH DISCOVERS ZARAHEMLA, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
The Lord has led Mosiah and his people to Zarahemla, where they discover the Mulekites, a people who left Jerusalem for the New World at the time of Babylonian captivity. Mosiah goes forward to meet two Mulekites, while his people stay at a safe distance. Since the Mulekites cannot understand Mosiah’s language, he raises his hand in peace and greeting. The Mulekites return his gesture, foreshadowing the union of the two peoples. The records Mosiah brings will be a valuable addition to Zarahemla, for the city has none. Four armor-clad men hold and safeguard the records, accenting their importance. This is one of few works within the Book of Mormon series that has a painted frame, as colorful quetzal birds and pointed yucca leaves burst beyond the borders.
Teichert places the sacred records prominently in the foreground, carried and guarded by soldiers, to emphasize the great blessing that these records will be to the Mulekites.
How have the scriptures been a blessing in your life? What other records have been a blessing to you—journals, family records, or meaningful notes?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), KING BENJAMIN’S FAREWELL ADDRESS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Standing atop a tower suggestive of the Castle at Chichen Itza, King Benjamin delivers his farewell address. It was a sermon accompanied by a powerful outpouring of the spirit that led to widespread conversion, a renewed commitment of discipleship, and an extended period of peace throughout the land. Dressed in the red and gold robes of royalty, King Benjamin stands as a mortal ruler inviting his people to recognize and worship the eternal Heavenly King who is the forthcoming Savior, Jesus Christ. In a stance similar to images of the Savior with outstretched arms, King Benjamin reminds his people that he has “labored with [his] own hands” (Mosiah 2:14) in an effort to teach service by example. He encourages those listening to serve one another for when they do, they are really in the service of their God (Mosiah 2:17). The scribes on either side of King Benjamin allude to the importance of keeping sacred records so that the people might recall the commandments of God and the testimonies of prophets, past and present.
Minerva Teichert had an abiding love for the Book of Mormon that is evident in her thoughtful and inviting depictions of its scriptural narratives. The details of this scene were based on sketches Teichert made during her travels to ancient ruins in central Mexico.
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), AMMON BEFORE KING LIMHI, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Inspired by her testimony, Minerva Teichert created 42 paintings illustrating scenes from the Book of Mormon, which can be a supplement to the Come Follow Me study curriculum of this year. This painting shows a scene with Ammon, a Mulekite descendant and the leader of an expedition from Zarahemla. In a bold effort to learn the fate of a group of Nephites who had returned to the land of their forefathers years earlier, Ammon and his companions wandered for forty days before stumbling upon King Limhi’s city (Mosiah 7: 4-8). In this mural, the architectural detail has a Mesoamerican flavor, based on Teichert’s visits to Mexico. Ammon has stepped forward to address the king while his companions hold back, still bound and guarded. The story is compressed to also depict an event of the next day, when the king ordered servants to bring forth the plates containing the history of his people (Mosiah 8: 4-5). Here, the king, weary of the bondage of his people, leans forward eager to hear Ammon’s account, which brings hope of physical and spiritual deliverance.
What do you imagine this scene looked like?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), TRIAL OF ABINIDI, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
In this painting by Minerva Teichert, the Book of Mormon prophet Abinadi appears before the wicked King Noah and his priests (Mosiah 12: 18-19). The king and priests look harshly upon Abinadi, attempting to trick him into contradicting the scriptures. On an errand from the Lord, however, Abinadi stands boldly before them, filled with the spirit of prophecy.
The pose of the seated figure on the right contributes to our understanding of the painting. Here, Teichert employs a contorted posture which aligned with the definition for “eager interest” in the Delsarte System of Expression, well known in theater and performance circles in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The figure is probably Alma, the only priest in the story to believe the words of Abinadi (Mosiah 17: 2).
Despite opposition, Abinadi’s faith helped him teach fearlessly. How has your faith helped you overcome fears and trials?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), ALMA BAPTIZES IN THE WATERS OF MORMON, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Hidden amid a lush tropical forest, the waters of Mormon provided a secluded place for Alma to baptize the recent converts to the “church of Christ” (Mosiah 18:17). Despite the seeming privacy of the scene, however, one man on the right stands alert, turning away from the water to keep watch for signs of King Noah’s army. At center, Alma stands waist deep in the pristine water about to submerge a young girl below its crystal-clear surface. A young boy, having just been baptized, approaches the bank. With water dripping from his hands and clothes, he is greeted by an attentive female figure. The focus on youth in the scene may reference the Savior’s encouragement to be as little children while the quality of the water may symbolize the spiritual purity gained through baptism.
In her illustration of this scriptural narrative, Minerva Teichert included details she observed during her travels to Mexico. In this sketch for instance, she utilizes the many studies she made of the native foliage.
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), LAMANITE MAIDENS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
At first glance, this scene appears to be a celebration of innocence and purity as beautiful Lamanite maidens adorned in white dresses and floral leis dance along the shimmering water’s edge. But a closer examination exposes an ominous situation. The sinister priests emerge to abduct their victims. Their operation is carried out quickly and quietly, for the maidens in front are unaware of what is happening behind them. Nor do they notice a man about to capture one of them. Another priest creeps through the bushes on the left to grab the legs of his unsuspecting victim. The dancing may reflect a dance number in Corianton, a popular play based on a Book of Mormon story that became a favorite of Teichert.
Again, Teichert focuses on the women of a Book of Mormon event in this painting. Who are your heroines from scripture?
Mosiah 20: 1-5
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), ESCAPE OF KING LIMHI AND HIS PEOPLE, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
After years of subservience to the Lamanites, King Limhi leads his people to freedom “through the back wall, on the back side of the city” (Mosiah 22:6). The bold plan presented by Gideon unfolds; absconding Nephites gather with assorted possessions and provisions, while outside the city their flocks, herds, and beasts of burden stand ready. Lamanite guards, having already imbibed their entire tribute of wine, are slumped beside a large empty amphora; their idle weapons lean ineffectively against the wall. King Limhi and Ammon each carry a set of records—the histories of the Jaredites and of Limhi’s people—and are the first to leave the city. The back pass frames the dark wilderness and a clear, starry sky. Moonlight filtered through the tropical foliage casts dreamlike shadows on the back wall; for the people, this is a dream fulfilled.
Think of a time you had faith to step into the darkness of the unknown. How did the Lord lead you to safety?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), ESCAPE OF ALMA’S PEOPLE, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Lamanites had discovered and subjugated Alma and his small colony. In answer to the prayers of Alma’s people, the Lord made their oppressive burdens light and helped them bear affliction until their escape. When God revealed the day he would free them, they labored an entire night to be ready and then relied on the Lord for their deliverance. In this portrayal, men and boys gather their sheep and grain in preparation for escape, their actions calm and steadied by faith. The sheep testify to Teichert’s lifetime of closely observing animals. With a minimum amount of brushwork, she captured their habits, gait, and forms from various perspectives.
How have your prayers been answered? In what ways do you demonstrate your faith to the Lord?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), AN ANGEL APPEARS TO ALMA AND THE SONS OF MOSIAH, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Although Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah have grievously sinned by persecuting the followers of Christ, an angel appears to them, extending his hands in a Christ-like gesture, as he speaks on the Lord’s behalf. The angel’s apparition has been so sudden and his voice so thunderous that the young men have fallen to their knees. What is more, the brightness of the angel’s glorious, celestial light causes two of the sons of Mosiah to shield their eyes. In her Book of Mormon series, Minerva Teichert attempts to reconcile scriptural accounts with first-hand observation. The clothing and headdresses of the mortal figures in this work, for instance, are based on studies Teichert made during two research trips to Mexico, where she visited the ruins of Teotihuacan and sketched figures and designs embedded in the architecture. As you study this image, ponder how you might react to such a miraculous, heavenly visitation.
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), MOSIAH INTERPRETS THE JAREDITE STONE, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Aided by the Urim and Thumim attached to a breastplate, Mosiah interprets while a Nephite scribe sits at his feet, Egyptian style, recording his words. A Mulekite noble looks on while two other Mulekites balance the Jaredite stone. Thus, this event represents three of the great peoples of the Book of Mormon. Teichert captures the condensed nature of the Jaredite language—its ability to say so much so succinctly—by picturing a relatively short record on a stela resembling a modern war memorial. The dynamic poses and bright colors are played out against the shadowy background of the Jaredite past.
Just as Mosiah was able to gain insight on his own people by learning from the past experiences of the Jaredites, we are able to learn from the stories of those who came before us. What stories from the Book of Mormon have helped you the most in your life?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), A BATTLE AT THE RIVER SIDON, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
The Nephites, led by Alma, wait on the banks of the River Sidon, steeling against the oncoming attack. Teichert places us behind the Nephite ranks, facing a daunting foe that streams down from the surrounding hills, ready to destroy.
Scripture relates that after an initial victory between Alma’s troops and the Amlicite army, Amlici joined with the Lamanites, garnering an opposition “as numerous… as the sands of the sea” (Alma 2:27). One can only imagine the fervent prayers of the Nephites as they calculated the overwhelming odds. Trusting in the Lord’s power to deliver them, the Nephite troops fought with such conviction and stamina that the combined foe “began to flee before them, notwithstanding they were so numerous that they could not be numbered” (Alma 2:35). Their faith was answered, as the Lord strengthened them against their enemies just as He had days earlier and would continue to do in response to their earnest trust.
The Nephites’ experience in battle is a type for our everyday lives:
What opposition do you feel in your life lately?
What might you do, like Alma and his troops, to receive greater strength in overcoming that opposition?
How can you respond when the opposition seems to return or even intensify?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), ALMA OVERCOMES AMLICI, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Though Amlici was rejected by the voice of the majority, his followers proceeded to consecrate him as their king, eventually going to battle against the rest of the Nephites. After suffering a devastating defeat, the Amlicites joined forces with the Lamanites and again went to war. The raging destruction between the Nephites and the Amlicites is suggested by the fiery smoke emerging from the battlefield below the mountaintop. The opposing commanders, Alma and Amlici, engage in fierce hand-to-hand combat, perched on an imposing mountain top. Amlici bears the distinguishing red mark on his forehead and dons a grinning, idolatrous face on his breastplate. The two figures, the rock formation and billowing clouds all combine to form a strong pyramidal composition, which visually supports the narrative buildup towards the story’s climax. Teichert presents us with the dramatic moment right before Alma triumphs over his wicked foe.
As you view this painting, reflect on the battles, challenges, and setbacks you have witnessed in your own life, and how God has sustained you.
(Alma 2:29–31 and 3:4)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE EARTHQUAKE, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
After preaching to the people of Ammonihah, Alma and Amulek were put into prison, where they were stripped, starved, cruelly mocked, and forced to witness the martyrdom of beloved converts. The valiant missionaries silently endure this treatment for “many days,” until—taunted by the scorners’ demand for a sign—Alma cries aloud to the Lord for deliverance.
Teichert shows the Lord’s undeniable answer to Alma and Amulek’s plea. The supplicants’ chains break apart, freeing them, as the weighty walls of the prison are shaken by an earthquake. The frightened guards and abusers attempt to flee, but are pinned and slain by the falling stones. Heavenly light encircles Alma and Amulek, while the light of divine justice descends on their persecutors.
What attitudes do Alma and Amulek seem to express in Teichert’s painting?
How does timing play a role in this story?
In what ways have you seen deliverance in your own life?
(Book of Mormon: Alma 14:26-27)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), AMMON SAVES THE KING’S FLOCKS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Although a Nephite, Ammon helps the Lamanite servants save the king’s flocks from would-be robbers. Associating Ammon with David of the Old Testament, Minerva Teichert focuses on the moment Ammon slings his stones to slay his enemies. His courage and determination are evident in his complete focus and energetic body language. Two of his Lamanite associates stare at Ammon in awe and bewilderment, while another observes the enemies wounded and bleeding from Ammon’s courageous actions. This is yet another example that shows how Teichert combined scriptural narrative with personal observation and research for her Book of Mormon paintings. In this case, the Lamanite clothing and headdresses may have been inspired by the Shoshone-Bannock Indians the artist saw during her youth in Southern Idaho.
Can you think of a time in your life when you exhibited courage despite being faced with danger or uncertainty?
(Alma 17: 33-36)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE MEETING WITH LAMONI’S FATHER, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
En route to rescue Ammon’s brethren, Lamoni chanced to meet his father, the ruler over all the land. The old Lamanite king, already angry that Lamoni had missed an important feast, became further enraged by Lamoni’s support of the hated Nephites and drew his sword upon Ammon and Lamoni (Alma 20:16-20). In Teichert’s painting of the encounter, the king’s sword has fallen and he holds his injured arm. Ammon has just sheathed his sword, proving with this move he has no desire to inflict further injury. Lamoni, observing from his chariot, is the center of a dispute over allegiance, having changed primary loyalty from his earthly king to his Heavenly King. The younger men and the father have been traveling in opposite spiritual directions (reflected by the chariots), but this encounter initiates the old king’s conversion.
What can we learn about courage and testimony from Lamoni and Ammon, despite the opposition they faced?
How can we remain faithful and strong even if close friends and family are not supportive?
(Book of Mormon: Alma 20:6- 26)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), CHRISTIAN CONVERTS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies’ whole-hearted repentance is a poignant example of conversion. After embracing the gospel, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies bury their weapons, choosing to sacrifice their lives rather than open a door that could possibly return to a warring lifestyle: a reenactment of their past sins.
Teichert splits the canvas in half to tell their story. At top, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi prostrate themselves in front of their Lamanite enemies, praising the Lord even as they are slain. The faithful converts’ unwillingness to fight against their brethren softens the hearts of the invaders and leads to a widespread conversion. In the lower half of the painting, Teichert shows these penitent Lamanites. Inspired by the peaceful response of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, they also exchange their weapons for tools of industry. They are flanked on the left by their political leader, a Lamanite king, and on the right by a spiritual leader, possibly Ammon, who exhorts them to good works.
Consider: what symbolic weapons exist in your life that you can surrender, or bury, in order to more fully follow the Savior?
(Book of Mormon: Alma 24: 18-26)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), DEFENSE OF A NEPHITE CITY, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
“…for the freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and theprivileges of their religion by a free government.” (Alma 51:6)
Although rare in Teichert’s work—even in instances where it might be expected—the turmoil, clamor, and exertion of battle are vividly depicted in this scene. Taken from Chapter 51 in the Book of Alma, Teichert combines narrative details that reference the current internal struggle for political power among the Nephites, the abiding hatred of the Lamanites for their brethren, and Moroni’s call to maintain the righteous cause of freedom.
Inside the fortified Nephite city, the “people of liberty” (Alma 51:13) – having subdued a rebellion that sought to overthrow the free government and establish a king in the land (Alma 51:5)—defend their home, freedom, and families from Lamanite attackers attempting to breach the gate and scale the walls. The Title of Liberty (Alma 46:36, 51:20) has been raised atop the left tower, as per Moroni’s instructions, to remind the Nephites of their righteous covenant. The city’s defenses are obvious, but a far greater source of strength is suggested by the temple and pillar of cloud, denoting God’s presence, rising above the physical fortifications.
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE TITLE OF LIBERTY, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
“…In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” (Alma 46:12)
Minerva Teichert captures in this mural perhaps one of the Book of Mormon’s most moving displays of patriotic loyalty, humble devotion, and faith-filled pleadings for freedom and liberty. Captain Moroni, astride a white stallion, waves the Title of Liberty; calling the people to enter into a covenant one with another and with their God that they and their rights may be preserved.
And how did the people of the land respond? Without hesitation, “the people came running…rending their garments in token …that they would not forsake their God” (Alma 46:21). Before Captain Moroni stands a group of men “with their armor girded about their loins”, a sign of their eagerness and commitment to the defense of all they loved. A soldier with a horn summons others to assemble while indistinct figures behind Moroni may include the soldiers’ wives and children. In the background, are the structures of a large city. Thus, the soldiers have before them their families and their land—two of the reasons they have covenanted to fight and to remain righteous.
(Book of Mormon: Alma 46:12, 13, 19, 21)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), TREACHERY OF AMALICKIAH, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Throughout her career, Minerva Teichert was a champion of women. She used her art to emphasize the significance of their contributions, and painted both well-known women of the scriptures and as well as minor characters. These women are often shown at the center of the scene, such as in the painting of the Lamanite queen in The Treachery of Amlickiah.
Here, cunning Amalickiah lies to the grieving Lamanite queen about the death of her husband. He later marries her and becomes the king of the Lamanites. In this painting, the queen is shown as both a strong authority figure and a vulnerable woman. Her position on the throne is countered by the soft expression on her face. The presence of the royal children is not mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but Teichert portrays them at the base of a pyramidal configuration, emphasizing the strength of the queen at the apex. The patterns and motifs of the architecture in the painting were likely influenced by Teichert’s sketches of ancient ruins in Mexico.
What can we learn by paying attention to the stories of the women in the Book of Mormon?
How can their stories, both inspiring and tragic, help us in our lives?
(Book of Mormon: Alma 47:22-35)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), DEATH OF AMALICKIAH, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Acting on his own initiative, Teancum, one of Moroni’s chief captains, attacks while his enemy sleeps. Amalickiah’s state of false security is subtly underscored by the figure of a servant who is slumped over as if he has fallen asleep while on guard duty. Surrounded by the trappings of military leadership, the figure of Amalickiah appears to be laid out as if already dead. The apex of the temple pyramid design on the blanket marks the place where Teancum will thrust his javelin. Teancum’s raised weapon and the beam of light both point to the sleeping man and imply divine justice for one who has caused the death of many. Interestingly, Amalickiah was killed on the eve of the first day of the year, when symbolic re-enthronements in some cultures take place.
(Alma 51:33–34 and 62:35)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE CITY OF GID, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
After refusing Ammoron’s request to exchange prisoners, Captain Moroni devised a plan to free the Nephites held captive in the City of Gid. Laman and a small group of Nephite soldiers venture to Gid, carrying with them strong wine intended to get the Lamanite soldiers drunk. Teichert shows their approach. Laman, who was Lamanite by heritage, hoists the wine on his shoulder, ready to claim that they had escaped from Nephite custody and stolen their wine. His fellow soldiers smile, as if celebrating their exploit and imitating the merriment of drunkenness. The success of their rescue plan hangs in the balance, as the Lamanite guards look at each other, suspicious of the approaching group.
Beguiled by Laman’s story and the allure of wine, the weary Lamanite guards drink heartily. Moroni’s inspired plot allows his troops to free their prisoners and capture the City of Gid without any bloodshed.
In seeking to uphold the commandments of the Lord, Moroni received inspired guidance. When have you felt the Lord lead you?
Why do you think Minerva Teichert chose to depict this story as one of her 42 scenes from The Book of Mormon?
(Book of Mormon: Alma 55: 7-16)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), HELAMAN’S STRIPLINGS/SAMUEL THE LAMANITE, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
In a unique depiction of two Book of Mormon stories, Minerva Teichert parallels the theme of divine protection granted to those who put their faith into action. The top register illustrates a portion of the 2,000 stripling warriors who bid farewell to their widowed mothers on the right. Particularly poignant is the Lamanite mother who offers her son a shield—a representation of the faith that will be his protection—and references the future testimony spoken by all the stripling warriors, “…yea they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” (Alma 56:47). Because their fathers had taken a vow of peace, burying their weapons of war deep within the earth, these righteous young Lamanite men are ceremonially armed with the sword of truth by the prophet and their military leader, Helaman, at the left.
In the lower register, Teichert paints another example of a person shielded by great faith, Samuel the Lamanite. The prophet is protected from the arrows and stones aimed at him in an attempt to silence his prophesying atop the city walls. A divine power is suggested by the heavenly rays of light that surround Samuel. The flight angles of the arrows direct our eyes to the prophet’s right hand, which is centered in the embrasure. Samuel’s outstretched hand is an allusion to the forthcoming Christ who will make the same gesture showing marks of the crucifixion in his hands. Delivering the signs of Christ’s coming birth and death is part of Samuel’s mission, and he warns the Nephites in Zarahemla that those who do not repent will be destroyed when Christ is crucified.
Think of a time your faith has shielded you from spiritual or physical attack. Share your testimony of this event with someone else.
(Book of Mormon: Alma 53: 16-18, 20-21, 56: 47-48 and Helaman 13-16)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE SHIP OF HAGOTH, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
“And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship.” (Alma 63:5)
At the conclusion of the lengthy conflict between the Lamanites and the Nephites, Mormon introduces readers of the Book of Mormon to a man named Hagoth. Occupying only a few verses in the book of Alma, the account of Hagoth describes the migration of thousands of Nephites away from Zarahemla never to be heard from again (Alma 63:4). Curious as it may be to include this brief and mysterious record of people emigrating, Mormon was selective and purposeful in what he chose to include in his abridgment of the original plates.
Teichert was clearly inspired (or intrigued) by the story of Hagoth enough to memorialize the event in a painting. In her rendering of the scene, a large ship with a decorative pattern carved into the upper hull and a patchwork oceanic lateen sail dominate the visual plane. Teichert, who spent most of her life in a mountainous desert landscape, did not fully understand the action of sailing as evidenced by the weak spray of water ahead of the bow. However, she shows an impressive familiarity with historic sea faring vessels of the Mediterranean and Pacific Islands. Figures can be seen on the ship, including a solitary figure standing at the prow, an elevated figure manning the rudder, and a large group of people, partly obscured by the sail, who occupy the starboard side of the craft. The bow, sail, rudder, and even the occupants point toward the open ocean and their future, creating a feeling of anticipation rather than fear.
Although the destination of Hagoth’s ships is unknown, across Polynesia there are stories of ancient travelers who came from distant lands in many boats. For generations these stories have been shared and passed down, linking the unique cultures of Polynesia back to a common seafaring ancestry. What is your unique family history? Where have your ancestors come from that resulted in you being here today?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), GADIANTON’S BAND, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Minerva Teichert created several versions of this dramatic scene. The theatrical composition centers on the charismatic villain retreating on horseback into the mountains with the spoils of a raid. Clothed in a red robe and mounted on a white horse, the robber chieftain waves his sword in defiance of the Nephites below, flashing a smirk of delight not unlike a character in an adventure film. Stones dislodged from the cliff’s edge by the horses’ hooves testify to the band’s daring. In the mural, the pursuing Nephites raise their weapons, as if vowing to capture Gadianton at some future point.
(Helaman 11:25-33; see also 3 Nephi 1:27)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE ANSWER OF LACHONEUS, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Emboldened by their growing strength, the Gadianton robbers demand that Lachoneus, the Nephite governor, unite with the robbers; otherwise, his people will be destroyed. The wise Lachoneus refuses to yield. Instead, he urges his people to turn wholeheartedly to the Lord and to unite together—gathering their families, flocks, and substance in one place of defense.
Teichert shows livestock and wagons full of grain funneling into the thick walls of their new city. A group of men atop the walls places the final stone layers of the fortification. Clouds of dust indicate the steady movement of the gathering people. With enough supplies in their stronghold to last for seven years, Lachoneus’ people thwarted the Gadianton band, who could no longer subsist by preying upon the Nephites.
How does Teichert’s painting of this moment offer new insights into a familiar scripture story?
What might the Nephites’ defense in this story symbolize for you?
(Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 3:11-14)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), DESTRUCTION ON THE WESTERN CONTINENT, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
This mural depicts the Savior’s appearance to the righteous survivors after the destruction on the Western Continent following the crucifixion. Gathered in family units, the people greet Him with upraised arms, symbolic of their reverence and awe, as he descends from above the temple at Bountiful. In the preliminary sketch of this piece, Teichert included dramatic examples of destruction, included dead inhabitants. In the complete mural, however, there is less emphasis on the destruction and more on the figure of the Savior. Here, glowing light emanates from Christ as He descends. He looks almost like an angel—perhaps reflecting the scriptural account explaining the initial response of the people: “they thought it was an angel that had appeared to them” (3 Nephi 11:8).
Reflect on your testimony of Jesus Christ and consider writing it down in a journal or sharing with a loved one.
3 Nephi 8:15-18 and 11:1-8
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), CHRIST IN AMERICA, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Lord over all, Christ smiles down at the inhabitants of the Western hemisphere and welcomes them with outstretched arms. He invites us to inspect His wounds–tokens of His atonement–and witness that He is risen. In proof that He is indeed an exalted being of flesh and bone, His arms and hands are bared and His robe billows around his feet. On the sides are Central American quetzal birds, apt symbols of the resurrected Christ. Their tail feathers echo the lines of Christ’ s robes; and the red on their breasts—the red of His wounds. An aureole bursts around their bodies, faintly reflecting the glory around Christ’s head.
(1 Nephi 21:16 and 3 Nephi 11:14)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), THE SACRAMENT, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
In this depiction of a Book of Mormon event, the resurrected Savior administers the sacrament to his disciples, against the backdrop of an elaborate Mesoamerican temple. Both Nephite and Lamanite disciples—cultures often at odds—come before Christ and unitedly administer the holy ordinance to the unseen multitudes. Jesus stands at the apex of the pyramid shape formed by the disciples, His loving countenance inspiring the harmony of their worship.
What symbolism does Teichert use in her interpretation of this story? What does it represent?
What is one thing you can do to experience a deeper connection with the Savior during the sacrament ordinance?
(Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 18:2-9; see also 3 Nephi 20:3-7)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), LAST BATTLE BETWEEN THE NEPHITES AND THE LAMANITES, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Riding swiftly on ponies over armored bodies and vessels heaped on the ground, Lamanites trample the remnants of an entire civilization. They also hold their weapons ready to kill any Nephite who may still be alive. Because of the Nephites’ refusal to repent of their wickedness after many prophetic warnings, the Lord has withdrawn His protection and allowed the Lamanites to overrun them. Even in the face of this destruction, one Nephite remained, as Moroni lived to complete the record and preserve the plates for later translation by Joseph Smith.
The Lord’s promises are sure, even when things seem most bleak. Just as Moroni survived to carry forth the Book of Mormon, the Lord will always provide a way to bless his children, even when those blessings might not be easy to see. How have you seen the Lord’s hand preserving you and guiding you during difficult and challenging times?
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), RECORD OF THE JAREDITES, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
In the days of the prophet Ether, Coriantumr was king over all the Jaredites. He was warned by Ether that if he did not repent, all the Jaredites but himself would be destroyed and another nation would possess the land. Teichert depicts the fulfillment of Ether’s prophecy. As the lone survivor of the Jaredite nation, Coriantumr stands among bones and ruins, facing a stela recording the self-annihilation of his people. The grandeur of the fallen civilization is evident in the ornate and magnificent architecture. Five men from Zarahemla crouch behind a ruined wall, amazed by the scene before them. The skeletons around them emphasize the utter destruction of the Jaredite people.
How do you listen to the prophet’s voice? What important messages have you learned from the prophet recently?
Omni 1:21, Mosiah 8:8
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), JOURNEY OF THE JAREDITES ACROSS AMERICA, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
Inspired by Hugh Nibley’s writings on the Jaredites, Teichert added this mural to the series in 1952. She captures the drama of the Jaredites migrating eastward with their possessions pulled in large ox-drawn wagons and with their herds and beasts of burden. This massive caravan raising clouds of dust is far different from that of Lehi and his small group, who fled carrying only necessities. Jared, leader of the Jaredites, and his brother, the Prophet, lead the caravan to the sea. After the Jaredites dwelt for four years upon the seashore, the Lord told them to build barges for traveling across the sea to a promised land. The high mountain in the background may represent Mount Shelem, where the brother of Jared prayed to obtain light for their vessel.
(Ether 2:1-3, 5, 13)
MINERVA TEICHERT (1888-1976), MORONI: THE LAST NEPHITE, C.1949-1951, OIL ON MASONITE, 36 X 48 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, 1969.
In this painting of dualities, the aging Moroni is both prophet and warrior. Although he is the sole survivor of his nation, Moroni is connected to his people through their writings. The warmth of the fire provides comfort, but it does not entirely dispel the shadows of his life. A lonely refugee hiding in a cave, Moroni must keep his sword buckled on his waist and his spear at hand, for the danger of discovery is constant. Yet, Moroni focuses on making his engraving, “I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not (Mormon 8:4).”
Put yourself into Moroni’s shoes. How would you feel in his lonely state?