Minerva Teichert "The Promised Land"

From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings

Ongoing

Minerva Teichert "Christ in America"

Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), “Christ in America​,” 1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 x 46 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

For those who have long enjoyed her vibrant religious and Western paintings, Minerva Teichert’s (1888-1976) legacy seems self-evident. Her lively and engaging figures, and the immediacy of her personal style make a Teichert painting easy to identify and impossible to forget; yet admirers may not realize how unlikely her present-day renown would have seemed when she was growing up on an Idaho Ranch in the 19th Century. Feeling not only an irrepressible desire, but a calling to paint, she followed an uncommon path for women of her time and place. Minerva traveled East to study at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League in New York City. In New York she trained with Robert Henri, one of the most influential artists in America, who one day asked her whether someone had painted the great “Mormon story.” Her response, “Not to my liking,” became the start of a lifelong effort to use her training and skill to tell the story of her faith.

Teichert’s series of 42 paintings showing episodes from the Book of Mormon, a distinctive scriptural text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, represents this personal yearning to share her faith. The BYU Museum of Art owns the complete set of murals, 18 of which are presented here. Calling this the “greatest joy as well as the toughest job I ever hope to undertake,” Minerva dedicated herself completely to this project from 1949–1951. Balancing her personal artistic vision with a desire to testify of Christ, she used palette and brush to coax dynamic emotions out of familiar stories and figures, producing one of the most significant bodies of artwork ever inspired by Restoration scripture.

 

This virtual exhibition includes both artwork information as well as a “Come, Follow Me” supplement for each artwork. Artworks featured in the current exhibition are indicated as such. Please access this “Come, Follow Me” content HERE.

Minerva Teichert "A Battle at the River Sidon"
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, wearing armor and wielding swords, wait on the banks of the River Sidon for the Lamanite army to arrive. The viewer is placed behind the Nephite ranks, facing the enemy with them. The enemy’s army appears large and daunting, arriving in massive numbers. Scripture relates that while the Lamanites were formidable, they had no physical armor to protect them nor did they have the spiritual strength of the Nephites. Although the “work of death commenced on both sides” (Alma 43:37), the Nephites prevailed under the direction of Moroni, a righteous military commander. From a military standpoint, this will be the most impressive battle recorded in the Book of Mormon. Spiritually, it will also be a victory, leading to more faith and prayerful worship among the Nephite people.
(Alma 43: 35-45; Alma 45:1)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Alma Baptizes in the Waters of Mormon
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Alma Baptizes in the Waters of Mormon, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 7/8 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

In the sketch of Alma baptizing disciples, Teichert surrounds the scene with groups of people watching amidst the trees. The water is so pure one see through it. A man on the right faces away from the crowd as he stands guard against the ever-present danger of King Noah’s men. Teichert’s portrayal of the scene highlights her desire to honor the faithful women. The woman being baptizes, the mother on the right preparing her daughter for baptism, and the woman helping a child from the waters of baptism all reinforce the central role of women in The Book of Mormon.

Mosiah 18:5-30

Minerva Teichert "Alma Overcomes Amlici"
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 and warred against the rest of the Nephites. After suffering a serious defeat, the Amlicites joined forces with the Lamanites and went to war again. The raging battle between the Nephites and the Amlicites is suggested by the fiery smoke emerging from the battlefield below. The opposing commanders, Alma and Amlici, thrust and parry on an unlikely, but dramatic, mountaintop. Amlici wears the distinguishing red mark on his forehead and an imposing headdress. Despite this, Alma leans forward, revealing his advantage. Teichert presents us with the dramatic moment right before Alma triumphs over Amlici.

Alma 2:29-31, 3:4

Minerva Teichert "Ammon Before King Limhi"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Ammon Before King Limhi, c.1949-1951, oil on board, 35 15/16 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

In a bold effort to learn the fate of the Nephites, who years earlier had returned to the land of their forefathers, Ammon and his companions wandered for forty days before stumbling upon King Limhi’s city. In this mural, the architectural detail has a Mesoamerican flavor. 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. The king, weary of the bondage of his people, eagerly leans forward to hear Ammon’s account, which brings hope of physical and spiritual deliverance.

Mosiah 7:6-8

Minerva Teichert "Ammon Saves the King's Flocks"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Ammon Saves the King’s Flocks, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Associating Ammon with David of the Old Testament, Teichert focuses on the moment Ammon slings his stones to slay the enemy. His courage and determination are seen in his complete focus and body language. Although a Nephite, Ammon helps the Lamanite servants save the king’s flocks from robbers. Two of his associates stare at him in awe and bewilderment, while another observes the enemies wounded and bleeding from Ammon’s actions. The Lamanite clothing and headdresses may have been inspired by the Shoshone-Bannock Indians that Teichert saw in her youth.
(Alma 17: 33-36)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "An Angel Appears to Alma and the Sons of Mosiah"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), An Angel Appears to Alma and the Sons of Mosiah, c.1949-1951, oil on board, 36 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Although Alma has sinned grievously, the angel extends both hands to him in a Christ-like gesture–for the angel’s duty is to speak on the Lord’s behalf. The angel’s appearance has been so sudden and his voice so thunderous that the young men are shaken; even the foliage and the angel’s robe have been disturbed. He is so bright that two of the sons of Mosiah shield their eyes from the emanating light. This angel is a strong, handsome male in contrast to the European tradition, where angels are often depicted in a more feminine and prepubescent manner. Teichert took two trips to Mexico where she visited the ruins of Teotihuacan and sketched the figures in the architecture. The clothing and headdresses of the figures in this painting are influenced by those sketches.
(Book of Mormon: Mosiah 27:10-14)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "The Answer of Lachoneus"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), The Answer of Lachoneus, c.1949-1951, oil on linen on masonite, 36 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Refusing to yield to Giddianhi’s demands of surrendering and uniting with the wicked Gadianton robbers, Lachoneus urges his people to repent and convinces them to gather their families, flocks, and substance to Zarahemla. Teichert portrays the quickly built, thick-walled fortifications as strictly functional and without ornamentation. Orderliness prevails as the red-robed figure directs the flocks, herds, and grain-laden wagon into the city. Others finish the construction of the walls. Young boys sprawl out on the sacks of grain, taking a reprieve before the work of unloading begins. 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.

3 Nephi 3:11-14

Minerva Teichert "Christ in America"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Christ in America, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 x 46 1/2 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)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Christian Converts"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Christian Converts, c.1949-1951, oil on board, 36 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

This work is one of only two in the series that are composed of two horizontal registers. Here, both registers depict the consequences of full conversion to the gospel message. In the upper register, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi refuse to take arms against the Lamanites and instead prostrate themselves and pray as they are attacked. The converts’ unwillingness to take up weapons against their brethren will soften the hearts of the invaders and lead to their conversion.

In the lower register, we see the converted Lamanites who were so impacted by the peaceful and faithful response of the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi that they also converted and exchanged their weapons for tools. They are flanked on the left by their political leader, the Lamanite king, and on the right by their spiritual leader, probably either Aaron or Ammon, who exhorts them to good works.
(Alma 24: 18-26)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "The City of Gid"
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.

Carrying the weight of responsibility for the mission’s success, suggested by the wine jug he balances on his shoulder, Laman solemnly approaches the Lamanite guards. Although Laman certainly has no weapons in hand, the guards are apprehensive, for the group before them is dressed like Nephites. One guard looks to the leader for direction. To alleviate the guards’ suspicions, three of the Nephites act as if they are merry with wine. Arms on each other’s shoulders, they look like charming party creatures. Moroni did not delight in bloodshed, and this clever stratagem allowed him to rescue all the Nephite prisoners without killing anyone. And for the second time in a Book of Mormon account, a group of Nephites made their escape because of the drunkenness of Lamanite guards.

Alma 55:7-16

Minerva Teichert "Death of Amalickiah"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Death of Amalackiah, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 3/4 x 47 7/8 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. Teacncum’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, 62:35

Minerva Teichert "Defense of a Nephite City"
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.

Although rare in Teichert’s work—even in instances where they might be expected—the turmoil, clamor, and stench of the battle are vividly depicted in this scene. Over the tower waves a title of liberty as a reminder of the righteous causes for which the Nephites are fighting. The fortifications are the obvious defense, but the temple, the banner, and the pillar of cloud denoting God’s presence hint at a far greater source of strength. These emblems contrast with the dead lying outside the walls and underscore the spiritual loss the Lamanites have already suffered.

Alma 50:1-5

Minerva Teichert "Destruction on the Western Continent"
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.

The 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 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).

3 Nephi 8:15-18, 11:1-8

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

Although the Book of Mormon does not say that Alma and Amulek expressed their gratitude after their miraculous rescue, Teichert could he relatively certain that they did so. Here, she has selected the moment after they have broken their bonds and an earthquake has destroyed the prison. Amulek bows in humility while Alma raises his hands in acknowledgement of their deliverance. The guards and all those who taunted and brutally abused Alma and Amulek now lie slain under the fallen prison walls. Heavenly light encircles Alma and Amulek, while the light of divine justice descends on their persecutors. This is one of the serveral murals that vividly depicts the victory of the righteous over their enemies. The composition of Teichert’s painting was influenced by Raphael’s Liberation of St. Peter from Prison (1513), in which Peter is bound with chains in a grated prison cell framed by a rustic stone arch.

Minerva Teichert "Escape of Alma's People"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Escape of Alma’s People, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 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 habit of closely observing animals. With a minimum amount of brushwork, she captured their habits, gait, and forms from various perspectives.

Mosiah 24:18-20

Minerva Teichert "Escape of Limhi and his People"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Escape of King Limhi and His People, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 7/8 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Teichert paints many processions in her Book of Mormon paintings, including this depiction of King Limhi and his people escaping from their Lamanite captors. After years of subservience to the Lamanites, King Limhi leads his people to freedom, striding past the drunken guards sprawled amidst large, empty wine jars. Ammon accompanies him as guide. The secret pass stands open, its gate framing the dark wilderness and a starry sky of promise. Outside the wall the beasts of burden stand ready. Moonlight casts dreamlike shadows; for the people, this is a dream fulfilled. Ammon and King Limhi each carry a set of records±the histories of the Jaredites and of Limhi’s people. One woman in the escape group walks on tiptoe, holding her braids to stop their swinging.

Mosiah 22:4-10

Minerva Teichert "Flight"
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.
(1 Nephi 2:1-5)

Minerva Teichert "Gadianton's band"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Gadianton’s Band, c.1949-1951, oil on board, 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 like a character from 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 next time.
(Helaman 11:25-33; see also 3 Nephi 1: 27)

Minerva Teichert "Helaman's Striplings/Samuel the Lamanite"

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.

After receiving a farewell and the shield of faith from their mothers, depicted on the far right, these young Lamanite men turn in sequence to walk uprightly before God and march in harmony with their fellows. Arches overhead reinforce the sense of their unity. Not having weapons in their own convert families, each is ceremonially armed by the prophet Helaman.

On the lower register Samuel, a Lamanite prophet shielded by great faith, is protected from arrows, spears, and stones as he prophesies to the Nephites. Teichert visualizes the protective power around Samuel as heavenly rays of light. An opposing, but lesser power—as well as a sense of motion—is conveyed by the trail of light behind the spear. The trajectories of the spear and arrow direct our eyes to the prophet’s right hand, which is centered in the architectural opening. He has stretched forth his hand as he preaches about Christ, which also functions as an allusion to the signs of the crucifixion in Christ’s hands. Teichert equates Samuel with a noble savage coming out of the wild jungle, adorned with earrings and a blanket; his hair dressed in a braid.
(Alma 53: 16-21 and 56: 47-48; Helaman 13:4 and 16: 1-3)

Minerva Teichert "Journey of the Jaredites Across Asia"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Journey of the Jaredites Across Asia, c.1949-1951, oil on linen on masonite, 35 15/16 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, founder 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 "King Benjamin's Farewell Address"
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 upon a tower suggestive of the façade of the temple at Chichen Itza, King Benjamin and his two scribes are surrounded by a divine cloud. Benjamin, dressed in the red and gold robes of royalty, also appears as an aging prophet with his patriarchal beard. He has taken neither gold nor riches from his people to adorn himself with jewelry and royal insignias, but wears instead only a modest plumed crown. In a stance similar to images of the Savior with outstretched hands, King Benjamin reminds the people that he has labored with these hands to serve them. He implores the people to likewise serve one another and become saints through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. As viewers, we join in the imagined crowds below King Benjamin to hear his universal message.
(Mosiah 2: 7-8)

Minerva Teichert "Lamanite Maidens"
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 just 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.

Mosiah 20:1-5

Minerva Teichert "Last Battle Between the Nephites and the Lamanites"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Last Battle Between the Nephites and the Lamanites, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 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. The 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. The blood-red sky reflects the slaughter of over a quarter million Nephites. Originally, this painting was of Native Americans dressed in their traditional costume out on a hunt. Teichert later adapted it to the Book of Mormon story of the destruction of the Nephites by the Lamanites.

Mormon 6:8-15

Minerva Teichert "The Law on the Plates of Brass"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), The Law on the Plates of Brass, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 7/8 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. This piece is an example of a shallow pictorial space created by the backdrop of the city wall, which serves to “flatten” the work and fit it for display on a decorated surface.
(1 Nephi 4:19-20, 24-25, 28)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Lehi in the Desert"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Lehi in the Desert, c.1964, oil on canvas, 81 7/16 x 103 1/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Charles and Laurie Teichert Eastwood, 2008.

Completed in 1964, this piece was painted later—and is much larger—than the original works from The Book of Mormon series. The painting, generously gifted to the museum by the Teichert family in 2008, is being exhibited at the MOA with the Book of Mormon paintings for the first time.

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) to make the raw meat palatable during their travels.

Minerva Teichert “Loading the Ship”
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Loading the Ship, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 36 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

The ship that will carry Lehi’s family to the promised land fills the center of the painting. The scene is calm and purposeful, with the men hoisting provisions and the women waiting to board. At the right, graceful women carrying jars resemble a row of Greek statues, while a woman at the left holds her child in a pose like a Madonna. As the artist developed the final version of the scene, she added distinctive details of “curious workmanship” to the ship (1 Nephi 18:1), including an unusual prow and sails sewn together from many small pieces of fabric. Although propped firmly in place, the ship leans toward rough seas. Its sails billow lightly as though the vessel is about to move toward the clouds beyond the horizon–a portent that the faith of the family will soon be tested.
(1 Nephi 18:6)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

teichertlovestory4
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.

1 Nephi 7:5, 16:7-8

Minerva Teichert "The Meeting with Lamoni's Father"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), The Meeting with Lamoni’s Father, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 x 47 15/16 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 was angry that Lamoni had missed an important feast, which was perhaps a time to renew covenants and demonstrate loyalty. He became enraged by Lamoni’s defiance and by his support of the hated Nephites. In the mural, the old king’s sword has fallen and he holds his injured arm. Ammon has just sheathed his sword, having no desire to inflict further injury. Lamoni, placed between his father and Ammon, observes from his chariot. He 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.

Alma 20:6-26

Minerva Teichert "Morianton's Maidservant"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Morianton’s Maidservant, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 36 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

At every opportunity, Teichert portrays the women of the Book of Mormon exhibiting dignity and courage. Here the maidservant appears out of the dark like an oracle. She stands resolutely—one person against many—to deliver her message to Captain Moroni and his camp. Morianton, her former master, is leading a large group of deserting Nephites to the land northward. Her open stance alludes to her honesty and integrity, while the crossed arms of Moroni suggest his initial skepticism. The arched format confines this night scene, made even more dramatic by the red flames and smoke of the campfire.

Alma 50:30-33

Minerva Teichert "Moroni: The Last Nephite"
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, the sole survivor of his nation but connected to all his people through their writings. The warmth of the fire does not entirely dispel the shadows of his life. A lonely refugee hiding in a cave, he must keep his sword buckled on his waist and his spear at hand–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).”
(Mormon 8:1-4)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Moroni and the Title of Liberty"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Moroni and the Title of Liberty, c.1930, oil on canvas, 72 x 108 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1949.

Mounted on a white stallion, Moroni waves the inscribed Title of Liberty, ready to lead his people. 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. In the mural, a soldier with a horn summons the men on the right to assemble around Moroni. To Teichert, the red, white, and blue banner was symbolic of the emblems of Israel and therefore an appropriate rallying point for the Nephites.
(Alma 46:12-21)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Mosiah Discovers Zarahemla"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Mosiah Discovers Zarahemla, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 7/8 x 47 15/16 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 the 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 the 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.

Omni 1:12-14

Minerva Teichert "Mosiah Interprets the Jaredite Stone"
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. They dynamic poses and brights colors are played out against the shadowy background of the Jaredite past. Mosiah’s diaphanous purple robe is a particularly rich fabric denoting his combined priestly and kingly roles.

Omni 1:20-21

Minerva Teichert "Nephi, the Builder, Forging Swords"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Nephi, the Builder, Forging Swords, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 7/8 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.

2 Nephi 5:14-17

Minerva Teichert "Nephi Bound"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Nephi Bound, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 x 47 15/16 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.
(1 Nephi 18:9-19)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Nephi Leads His Followers into the Wilderness"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Nephi Leads His Followers into the Wilderness, c.1940, oil on plywood, 29 1/8 x 47 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1959.

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 the priesthood 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 mothers’ arms, while another child clings to his goat’s leash to keep pace through the dark.

2 Nephi 5:5-12

Minerva Teichert "The Promised Land"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), The Promised Land, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 41 5/8 x 53 11/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Leading the way through this new land are men carrying the group’s sacred objects—the plates of brass and the Liahona—their equivalent of the ark of the covenant. The exotic, mysterious nature of the country is revealed in the tropical foliage and vines, depicted in multiple colors of greens and highlighted with blues and purples. The figures form a procession of humans and animals, venturing into their new home. The people stay close together, and the rear guard keeps watch. New World llamas help transport the goods. Beautifully painted sheep, symbols of people that Christ loves and gathers to himself, pace beside the group God has gathered to the Promised Land.
(1 Nephi 18:23-25)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Record of the Jaredites"
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 stone slab, or 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. The viewer, positioned behind the figures in the foreground, shares in their surprising discovery.
(Omni 1:21 and Mosiah 8:8)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

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

Against the backdrop of an elaborate Mesoamerican temple, the resurrected Savior administers the sacrament with the help of his newly chosen leaders. Some elemts in this painting are figurative rather than historically accurate. Teichert shows six Nephite disciples on the left and six Lamanite disciples on the right. The two groups meet symbolically in front of Christ and go forth united to serve the bread and water to the multitude below. The pictures is carefully composed, with the horizontal lines of the architecture played against the diagonal lines of disciples ascending the stairs. These figures form the sides of a triangle that is crowned by the figure of Christ, dressed in white and radiant with divine power. A clear area in front of the Savior makes Him visually accessible to viewers and invites their involvement in the sacramental ordinance.

3 Nephi 18:2-9, 3 Nephi 20:3-7

Minerva Teichert "The Ship of Hagoth"
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.

This particular mural references a lesser-known story of the Book of Mormon, referred to in only a few verses. The last chapter of Alma records that Hagoth and his followers left to explore the land northward. In this piece, Teichert has applied the principle of the procession to the unique setting of an ocean. She has also maintained the shallow pictorial space that characterizes so many of her other works. Although the destination of Hagoth’s ship is uncertain, the lines of the sail, the prow, and the rudder point forward, as do the crew members and passengers. The ship fills the space of the composition, and the viewer is left to imagine the unknown adventures that will await them on their journey.

Alma 63:5-7

Minerva Teichert "The Title of Liberty"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), The Title of Liberty, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Mounted on a white stallion, Moroni waves the inscribed Title of Liberty, ready to lead his people. 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. In the mural, a soldier with a horn summons the men on the right to assemble around Moroni. To Teichert, the red, white, and blue banner was symbolic of the emblems of Israel and therefore an appropriate rallying point for the Nephites.
(Alma 46:12-21)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

Minerva Teichert "Treachery of Amalickiah"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Treachery of Amalickiah, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

Several of the scenes Teichert painted in her Book of Mormon series were not mentioned or described in detail in the book. On this briefly-mentioned occasion, 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 scene, 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 strengths of the queen at the apex. The patterns and motifs of the architectures in the painting were likely influenced by Teichert’s sketches of ancient ruins in Mexico.

Alma 47:22-35

Minerva Teichert "Treasures in Exchange for the Plates of Brass"
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 places in the Middle East, complete with camels and Mediterranean-inspired clothing, fabrics, and architecture. 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 Sam 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.

1 Nephi 3:22-24

Minerva Teichert "The Trial of Abinadi"
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Trial of Abinadi, c.1949-1951, oil on masonite, 36 x 48 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1969.

In this mural, a figure representing the Book of Mormon prophet Abinadi appears before the wicked King Noah and his priests. Behind their breastwork, King Noah and his priests try to trick Abinadi into contradicting the scriptures, believing that Abinadi has misconstrued the ancient record in his sermons. On an errand of the Lord, however, Abinadi is filled with the spirit of prophecy.

This confrontation touches off a swirl of emotions. The priests look harshly upon Abinadi, angered by the failure of their stratagem. Several priests in the council accuse Abinadi while one gazes out the window; another simply slumps in his chair, wearied by his night time carousing. The pose of the seated figure on the right contributes to our understanding of the painting. The contorted posture of the priest accords with the definition for “eager interest” as defined by the Delsarte System of Expression, known in theater and performance circles in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This is likely Alma, the only priest in the story to believe the words of Abinadi.
(Mosiah 11:9-11; 12:17-29; and 13:1)

This piece is currently on display in From the Vault: Minerva Teichert’s Book of Mormon Paintings.

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