Arnold Friberg

Patriotic Artwork

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.  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.  He has been admitted as a lifetime member of the Royal Society of Arts. He also did a series of paintings depicting scenes from the Book of Mormon for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Prayer at Valley Forge - Decor Frame
Prayer at Valley Forge - Decor Frame
Biography continued...

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

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. This included calendar work for the Northwest Paper Company, for whom he created paintings of Mounties. Friberg has created more than 300 paintings depicting Mounties, and he is the only American made an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In 1940, Friberg moved to New York City and began studying under the artist Harvey Dunn at the Grand Central School of Art.

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 and such.

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. 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. Friberg also hoped to do art work on a grand scale for the LDS Church. Although he did get the commission to do a painting of the first LDS Sunday School, at the time the Church was commissioning few art works and initially Friberg made little progress along these lines.

In 1953, Friberg moved to Hollywood in order to work on the previsualization paintings commissioned by Cecil B. DeMille for The Ten Commandments. Friberg was hired after DeMille was shown some of Friberg's paintings by a friend. At some point during the 1950s, Friberg was commissioned by the Primary Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to create a series of paintings depicting events in The Book of Mormon.

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. After extensive research on the location during winter and the equipment and gear used by Revolutionary War soldiers, Friberg created his 1975 masterpiece The Prayer at Valley Forge. This depicts George Washington praying while the Continental Army winters at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania during 1777 and 1778. 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.

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

True to the artist's desires, the Utah Cultural Arts Foundation will purchase all of the artwork Friberg possessed at the time of his death for the planned Arnold Friberg Museum of Art.