Definitive LDS artist Friberg was king

Nationally, he was known for his patriotic paintings and portraits of square-jawed Canadian Mounties.

But in Utah — and among Mormons — he was the man who gave the world those marvelous, muscle-bound Book of Mormon prophets.

When Arnold Friberg died earlier this week at age 96, he left behind the definitive version of Mormon, Nephi, Captain Moroni and dozens of other Book of Mormon figures.

I think of Yul Brynner's portrayal of the king in the "King and I." His performance was so powerful and passionate that every actor who has since played the part has had to deal with Brynner's version. You either did a homage to Brynner or tried to do something completely different.

So with Friberg and his Book of Mormon prophets.

He set them in stone.

And everyone has a favorite depiction.

Mine is Abinadi, lashed and defiant before King Noah. The sinewy prophet looks as tough as a strip of beef jerky, while Noah, cowering and fleshy, looks like a pre-Columbian Jabba the Hutt. Even the king's pet jaguar looks intimidated.

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