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Minerva Teichert’s Jewish-Themed Paintings Anchor New Exhibition at BYU’s Museum of Art

Students of the Old Testament know well the story of Queen Esther, as depicted in a 1939 oil painted by Latter-day Saint artist Minerva Teichert. The painting is part of a new 2022 exhibition at the BYU Museum of Art showcasing works from the museum’s permanent collection. Painting by Minerva Teichert, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

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By Jason Swensen, Church News

PROVO, Utah — Latter-day Saints worldwide will be reintroduced to courageous Queen Esther later this year during their “Come, Follow Me” study of the Old Testament.

Esther’s fellow faith-driven woman Latter-day Saint artist Minerva Teichert paid tribute to the biblical monarch in her oil painting named “Queen Esther.” Painted almost a century ago, the Teichert work has become a highlight of the permanent collection at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

A recently opened exhibition at the museum showcases “Queen Esther,” along with two other Teichert paintings. The exhibition is part of the latest iteration of the museum’s “From the Vault” series and features recent acquisitions and other beloved pieces from the MOA’s permanent collection.

The works of 12 artists are included in the exhibition.

“We are excited to showcase a trilogy of Minerva Teichert’s that has never been displayed together before,” said Liz Donakey, the museum’s educator for the “From the Vault” exhibition. “Though the three paintings have hung simultaneously in the museum, exhibiting them together will emphasize their significance, and we can’t wait for patrons to experience it.”

In 1938, Teichert’s son was serving a mission in Germany. He was disheartened to see mistreatment of German Jews and shared his feelings in a letter to his mother. The trio of Minerva Teichert’s paintings in the new BYU exhibition — including the portrait of the Jewish queen Esther — were crafted in response to the things her missionary son was witnessing and the emotions he was feeling.

“Queen Esther, of course, is a figure of courage and bravery who stood up for her people, the Jewish people,” said Donakey.

Other familiar works in the exhibition on the museum’s lower level include favorites from Norman Rockwell and Daniel Ridgeway Knight.

Donakey is also excited to display newly acquired paintings and sculptures from American artists Ernie Barnes, Elizabeth Catlett and Joseph Paul Vorst. The works of each artist helped capture the experience of Black Americans.

Longtime sports fans may recognize Barnes’s name. The North Carolinian played for several years in the National Football League before focusing his full-time attention on art that includes many sports-themed paintings.

“Barnes would draw during team meetings and during timeouts and really anytime that he could,” said Donakey. “So when his career ended as a professional athlete due to an injury, he became the league’s official artist.”

In 2004, Barnes was named America’s Best Painter of Sports by the American Sport Art Museum & Archives.

Admission to “From the Vault” is free to museum visitors. It’s not the only new exhibition at the MOA. “Across the West and Toward the North: Norwegian and American Landscape Photography” features images from the two titular nations around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The photography exhibition has previously toured in galleries in Norway and the United States and includes landscapes from photographers from seven countries.

“Across the West and North” will be on display until July 9; “From the Vault” will remain on exhibition through 2023.

Visitors can preview and learn more about the exhibitions at moa.byu.edu.

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