Paintings From “The Ten Commandments” Discovered To Have Utah Ties

Jul 16, 2014

 The epic motion picture The Ten Commandments was honored with an Academy Award for outstanding visual effects in 1957.  Before the parting of the Red Sea and the burning of the bush could be shown on screen, the images were first sketched and painted on canvas.  

The illustrative artist responsible for those paintings was from Utah.  Arnold Friberg (1913-2010) was an American illustrator and painter who started teaching commercial art at the University of Utah.  In 1953 he moved to Hollywood to work with Cecil B. DeMille on the remaking of the motion picture The Ten Commandments.

“The Original Eight Faces of Moses” collection includes works by Friberg, and was used by the film’s makeup artists.  The original oil paintings were used as the template for Charlton Heston’s makeup.

The paintings went unrecognized as Friberg’s work for 60 years.  Until last year, the collection was misattributed as the work of makeup artist Wally Westmore.  Lewiston said he contacted art curator Lawrence Jeppson of Salt Lake City, Utah to help authenticate the creator.  Jeppson recognized Friberg’s work through the artist’s unique calligraphy located along the top of each of the eight paintings.

“They are among the finest pieces of Hollywood art ever to come to market,” said Bobby Livingston, vice president for RR Auction.

RR Auction is based in Boston, Massachusetts and will be offering Friberg’s recently discovered works during an auction July 19.

“These museum-quality portraits capture not only his renowned attention to detail and stunning precision, especially with historic and religious subjects, but also captures the allure of one of the most celebrated films of all time,” Livingston said.

The collection will be displayed in Salt Lake City during a free public event Tuesday, July 15 and Wednesday, July 16 from noon to 8 p.m. at Zion Summit, 241 N. Vine Street.