Arnold Friberg

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Arnold Friberg
Arnold Friberg.jpg
BornDecember 21, 1913
Winnetka, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 1, 2010 (aged 96)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Known forOil painting
Notable work(s)The Prayer at Valley Forge
Friberg Fine Art
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Arnold Friberg
Arnold Friberg.jpg
BornDecember 21, 1913
Winnetka, Illinois, U.S.
DiedJuly 1, 2010 (aged 96)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Known forOil painting
Notable work(s)The Prayer at Valley Forge
Friberg Fine Art
The Prayer at Valley Forge, arguably Friberg's most well known painting.

Arnold Friberg (December 21, 1913 – July 1, 2010) was an American illustrator and painter noted for his religious and patriotic works. He is perhaps best known for his 1975 painting The Prayer at Valley Forge, a depiction of George Washington praying at Valley Forge.[1][2][3] He is also well known for his 15 "pre-visualization" paintings for the Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments which were used to promote the film worldwide and for which he received an Academy Award nomination.[1][4][5]

He has been admitted as a lifetime member of the Royal Society of Arts.[1] He also did a series of paintings depicting scenes from the Book of Mormon for Adele Cannon Howells, the Primary President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[5][6][7]


Friberg was born to a Swedish father and a Norwegian mother.[5] His family moved to Arizona when he was three years old, and he began drawing cartoons by the time he was seven.[1][4] When he was seven Friberg's parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[7] Friberg was baptized a member of the LDS Church at age eight.

While in high school, Friberg learned by meeting with the artists at The Arizona Republic, and earned money by creating signs for local businesses while being apprenticed to a local sign painter.[1][4]

After graduating from high school, Friberg attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, working for various local printers doing commercial art while attending school and for several years afterward.[1][4][5] This included calendar work for the Northwest Paper Company, for whom he created paintings of Mounties. Friberg has created more than 200 paintings depicting Mounties, and he is the only American made an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).[1] In 1940, Friberg moved to New York City and studied with Norman Rockwell under the artist Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art.[1][4]

With the outbreak of World War II Friberg left the Grand Central School of Art and joined the United States Army serving in the 86th Infantry Division. He had an offer of the rank of captain to draw recruitment posters for the United States Army Air Corps but chose instead to go to the front. He did, however, use his art skills in combat to draw maps.[7]

Move to Utah[edit]

Shortly after the end of the war and setting up shop in San Francisco, Friberg married Hedve Baxter. He made it big creating a series of paintings depicting Western scenes for a calendar company in 1948. Friberg moved to Utah in 1950 in order to begin teaching commercial art at the University of Utah.[1][4] This was partly due to having become friends with Avard Fairbanks on a previous visit to Salt Lake City and also a result of doctors recommending that Hedve move to a drier climate for her health.

When the Friberg's arrived in Utah, Arnold was asked to commemorate a centennial event by recreating on canvas the first pioneer Sunday school taught by Richard Ballantyne. Delighted with the painting, Adele Cannon Howells, the Primary President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wanted to commission Friberg to create twelve paintings depicting the Book of Mormon for The Primary's published magazine called The Children's Friend. Financing for taking on such a project was an obstacle as there was not enough in the budget of the magazine to cover the cost of an artist, nor would the church supply any funding. Therefore, Howells funded the project herself by selling her own land.[6][7]

At the time, reproductions and special editions were printed and sold, however no one knew these paintings would have so much impact that the Church would decide to put them in all copies of the Book of Mormon. They also caught the eye of Hollywood scouts searching for an artist for Cecil B. DeMille's epic motion picture The Ten Commandments.

DeMille was shown some of Friberg's paintings by a publisher friend and hired him.[1] Starting in 1953, Friberg spent three years in Hollywood as DeMille's chief artist and designer working on the previsualization paintings for The Ten Commandments.

In 1968, Friberg was commissioned by Chevrolet to create a series of paintings showing the greatest moments in college football for use in their 1969 advertising campaign.[1] After extensive research on the location during winter and the equipment and gear used by Revolutionary War soldiers, Friberg created his 1975 painting The Prayer at Valley Forge. This depicts George Washington praying while the Continental Army winters at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania during 1777 and 1778.[1] In 1977, he was commissioned to create a series of saloon paintings for the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Due to his previous work with the RCMP, Friberg was commissioned to paint HRH The Prince of Wales and his horse Centennial (great-grandson of Man o' War). This led to an additional commission in 1990 to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, also with Centennial. Both portraits were painted at Buckingham Palace.[1]

Friberg died on July 1, 2010, while recovering from hip replacement surgery in a Salt Lake City care center.[8]

Partial list of works[edit]

Listed alphabetically by title.

TitleYearCommissioned byNotes
Abinadi Before the King Noah1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
Alma baptizes in the waters of Mormon1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
Ammon Defends the Flocks1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
The Building of the City1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Christ Appears Among the Nephites1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
The Consecration of Joshua1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Dinner CompanionsWestern
Death of the Firstborn of Egypt1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
At the End of the Day1994Native American
The Finding of the Infant Moses1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
The Fight at Jethro's Well1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
The Finger of the Lord1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
The First Game1968Chevrolet1869 New Jersey vs. Rutgers football game, first college football game ever played
The First Passover1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Following the Star
Gentleman's FoursomeWestern
The Giving of the Law1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
The Great Exodus Begins1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Her Hero1989Native American
Heritage of the Lord
His First RideWestern
H.R.H. Prince Charles with his great horse "Centennial"1978The British Royal FamilyBuckingham Palace
Into New Country2006Native American
Into The Valley1995Native American
Knute Rockne at Notre Dame1968ChevroletCollege football
Lehi and his people arrive in the Promised Land1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
The Liahona1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
The Light and the Law1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
The Light of Christ
Long Trail WestWestern
Maintaining the RightR.C.M.P
Mind If I Join You, Gentlemen?Western
Moses Before Pharaoh1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Mormon Bids Farewell to a Once Great Nation1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
Moses and the Burning Bush1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Moses and Sephora1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Nephi Subdues His Rebellious Brothers1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
The Night Christ Was Born
O.J. Simpson Breaks For Daylight1968ChevroletCollege football – 1967 USC vs. UCLA
Parley in the ForestNative American, Western
The Parting of the Red Sea1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
The Passing Game1968ChevroletCollege football – Alabama vs. Tennessee, 1934
Peace Be Still
The Pillar of Fire1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
The Prayer at Valley Forge1975George Washington at Valley Forge
Puffing BillyR.C.M.P.
Queen Elizabeth II and "Centennial"1990The British Royal FamilyBuckingham Palace
The Risen Lord
Samuel the Lamanite on the Wall1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
Shepherds in the Field
Tales of the ForceR.C.M.P.
Thunder WagonWestern
Title of Liberty1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
Trail Ends at the SeaR.C.M.P.
Trouble for ButterfieldNative American, Western
Two Thousand Young Warriors1952–1955Adele Cannon Howells[6][7]The Children's Friend
Uncertain OddsWestern
The Wagon WedgeWestern
Waters of ManitouNative American
When the Land Was HisNative American
Winners and LosersWestern
Winter at Valley ForgeGeorge Washington at Valley Forge
Word of the Lord1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
The Worship of the Golden Calf1953Cecil B. DeMilleTen Commandments
Yielding the Right of WayWestern

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Arnold Friberg". Utah Artists Project. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  2. ^ ""The Prayer at Valley Forge" by Arnold Friberg". Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  3. ^ "The Prayer At Valley Forge". Northern Neck Heritage Tours. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "The Book of Mormon Paintings of Arnold Friberg". Meridian Magazine. 2001-09-30. Archived from the original on 16 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d Rackliffe, Karen. "Arnold Friberg: An Art Study created by Karen Rackliffe". School of Abraham. Archived from the original on 23 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Toone, Trent (May 21, 2012). "Insight into Arnold Friberg's Book of Mormon paintings". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Barrett, Robert T.; Black, Susan Easton (2005). "Setting a Standard in LDS Art: Four Illustrators of the Mid-Twentieth Century" (PDF). BYU Studies (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University) 44 (2): 29–41. ISSN 0007-0106. Retrieved January 17, 2013. "Although the contractual arrangement was between Sister Howells and Friberg only, a misconception persists that the Book of Mormon paintings were commissioned by Church priesthood leaders." 
  8. ^ Fulton, Ben. "Famed LDS/patriotic artist Friberg dead at 96". Archived from the original on July 1, 2010. Retrieved July 1, 2010. 

Further reading[edit]