Painters often used their canvases or other materials multiple times in order to keep costs down or to outline an idea before fully committing to it. Minerva Teichert was no exception to this practice. In the current exhibition MOA exhibition, A Visual Testimony: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings, there is one piece in particular where there is more than meets the eye.
Destruction on the Western Continent illustrates the pivotal moment of The Book of Mormon—the moment when Jesus Christ first appears to the Nephites on the American continent. The piece features crowds of people gathered at the temple in Zarahemla, waves crashing from the sea, columns and other debris all around. Then, like an angel, the figure of Christ in the heavens descends.
This beautiful artwork took Minerva a couple of tries to get it just right, though. In fact, on the back of the painting we see another version—one with more death and destruction. Teichert often worked quickly and sometimes, as this work shows, she used the backsides of a canvas in preparation for the final piece. In the final version of this particular piece, she shifted the placement of the crowds, removed extra trees, and altered the position of the figure of Christ. Although she envisioned the general composition on the back, here we can see that she changed and adapted as she worked.
See below the original and below it see the back of the painting where Teichert painted her first version.