Artist Arnold Friberg was an born on December 21, 1913 in Winnetka, Illinois. He was the son of Swedish and Norwegian parents.
Arnold's 1975 painting, 'The Prayer at Valley Forge' - a depiction of George Washington praying at Valley Forge is perhaps his most famous and popular patriotic work. Friberg is also well known for his fifteen previsualization paintings for the Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments, used to promote the film worldwide. Friberg received a nomination for an Academy Award for these paintings. Friberg has been admitted as a lifetime member of the Royal Society of Arts. He is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for whom he did a series of paintings depicting scenes from the Book of Mormon.
Arnold Friberg, the son of Scandinavian immigrants, was born on December 21, 1913 in Winnetka Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. At the age of 3 Arnold moved to Arizona with his sister, Gertrude, and his parents. By age 7, Friberg was already drawing original cartoons.
The Fribergs enrolled Arnold in a correspondence course at the age of 10. While in Phoenix AZ., Friberg often shared his drawings with the newspaper staff of the Arizona Republican and he learned from them. During his high school years, Arnold earned money by making signs for local businesses. After graduating from high school, he began his studies at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. While attending the Academy, Arnold worked part-time for printers. Arnold stayed in the Chicago area for several years and worked in the commercial art field.
In 1940, Arnold moved to New York City into the publishing world of Manhattan. He enrolled in night classes at the Grand Central School of Art, where he studied with Norman Rockwell.
Arnold also served with the 86th Infantry Division in World War II.
While in the Army, he was assigned to scouting and patrolling, map making and training aid production. He was discharged in 1946. While in Chicago, Arnold had met Hedve Baxter, a boarder at the Friberg's home. After his discharge from the Army, Arnold married Hedve and opened his own studio in San Francisco. His reputation grew as an illustrator as he worked on everything from package design to fashion illustration.
In 1948 Arnold accepted a commission to do scenes of the American West for a calendar series by the Louis F. Dow Calendar Company. This would become the start of his serious interest in the West. By 1950 Arnold and his wife had moved to Utah, and Arnold started teaching commercial art at the University of Utah.
About this time, the great producer and director Cecil B. DeMille was planning his immense production of "The Ten Commandments." DeMille was in need of an artist with both "the rare talent and inner vision to set down in paint, all of the power, the color, the human drama and above all else, the great moving spirit of the mighty scenes" described in the Books of Moses. After a long search, which included Europe, a publisher friend in Sweden sent DeMille prints of Arnold's scriptural illustrations. Demille knew he had found his artist.
This led to the Fribergs move to Hollywood in 1953. There, Arnold worked with Cecil B. DeMille for over three years on the epic motion picture "The Ten Commandments" as his chief artist and designer. Arnold worked closely with DeMille to visualize, through hundreds of sketches and paintings, a variety of scenes and human characters for the motion picture. Arnold Friberg's 15 paintings for "The Ten Commandments" became the pictorial basis for the movie's scenes, characters and costumes, which earned him an Academy Award Nomination. The paintings, when unveiled, toured the world, allowing millions to view them. Cecil B. DeMille estimated that "when 'The Ten Commandment' paintings toured the world, they were seen by more people than any other paintings except for some of the most celebrated masterpieces such as the 'Mona Lisa,' 'Nightingale,' and 'The Last Supper.'"
DeMille also stated that, "Among the living artists who have dedicated their talents largely to religious art, Arnold Friberg stands out for his virility and warmth, dramatic understanding and truth. He has accomplished a strong and real service in bringing the truth of the Bible to a wider understanding, appreciation, and acceptance." In the field of traditional realistic paintings, Arnold Friberg stands alone as the greatest living interpreter of Scriptural subjects.
In 1968 the Chevrolet Motor Company, a division of General Motors, commissioned Mr. Friberg to do a series of paintings depicting the most famous games in the history of American intercollegiate football. These paintings were used during the 1969 advertising campaign and were among the most demanding and exciting pieces Mr. Friberg had done. His extensive research included visiting the Notre Dame Stadium and locker room where Knute Rockne had coached. These paintings were such a success that they were taken on tour and shown at universities throughout the country.
Throughout his career, Mr. Friberg has painted a variety of themes: railroads and wagon trains, mountain men and miners, Indians and religious figures, the U.S. Calvary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, canoes and sailing ships, wildlife and horses. But, if he is to be known for anything, he hopes it is the horse. Mr. Friberg prides himself in the detail he uses, especially the detail he uses in his paintings of horses.
One of his largest and favorite pieces, painted in 1975, is of George Washington kneeling in prayer beside his horse at Valley Forge. Originally painted to honor our country's Bi-centennial year, "The Prayer at Valley Forge" in the past 24 years has become increasingly cherished and recognized as a supreme 20th century masterpiece of patriotic American art. In it we feel the cold, the suffering, and the weight of the burden falling on that tall and lonely man, driven to his knees there in the bitter snows of Valley Forge. This picture, marking a bold rejection of fleeting artistic and political "fashions", now expresses a powerful affirmation of faith, patriotic duty, and the deep spiritual depths in the founding of our country.
Arnold Friberg learned to paint horses when he began painting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the late 1930's for the Northwest Paper Company Calendars. To date, he has done almost 300 Mountie paintings, which has earned him a special place among his subjects. He is the only American who has ever been made an honorary member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In 1978 as a result of his work with the Mounties, he was commissioned to do an almost life-size portrait of H.R.H. Prince Charles with his great horse "Centennial", the great-grandson of Man-O-War. This was done at a studio in the Buckingham Palace. Then in 1990, Mr. Friberg and his wife was invited back to spend another six weeks residing in the Buckingham Palace in diligent preparatory sittings and studies for his commissioned undertaking of a splendid equestrian portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Centennial. Being commissioned to paint these royal portraits would mean that Mr. Friberg's name would be included in a list with such great artists as; Rembrandt, Velazquez, Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyck and numerous other masters who had painted portraits of the Royal family. Mr. Friberg describes himself as a storyteller. "That's all I've ever wanted to do, that's why I went into illustrating."
Mr. Friberg now works from his studio in Salt Lake City. "Art to me is a service, to bring enrichment to people's lives. That's why I want my art to be perfectly understood. One of the things I work for is clarity. That doesn't mean hard-edged forms, but clarity of the picture: what time of day, what kind of lighting, where it is. It should all be clear. I hope no one ever has to explain my pictures."
In Recognition of his spiritual, royal and other historical paintings, Arnold Friberg was made a life member of the ancient and honorable Royal Society of Arts, London, which accounts for the initials R.S.A. after his name. And while his paintings are realistic and historically correct, it is Mr. Friberg's extraordinary ability to capture not only the drama of history, but also the vibrancy and inner strength of human characteristics that have earned him the respect and recognition as one of the greatest master painters of modern times. "Art is always best when serving a cause greater than the artist."
Over a period of 42 years (1937-79), Friberg painted close to 300 repesentative "Mountie" art, prints and posters for the Northwest Paper Company. In 1978, the Friends of the Force, an affiliation of the R.C.M.P., commissioned Arnold Friberg to paint a lifesize portrait of HRH Prince Charles with the splendid royal mount Centennial. The Friends of the Force were so pleased, they commissioned Mr. Friberg to paint a large royal equestrian portrait of HRM Queen Elizabeth II mounted on Centennial, in the palace garden at Buckingham.
Other art, prints and posters of Arnold Friberg include: A series of 12 religious paintings commissioned by Mrs. Adele Cannon Howells; a 1969 series for General Motors depicting 100 years of American intercollegiate football; and a great number of highly prized historical paintings of the old American west. One favorite Friberg painting is the large, superb, The Prayer at Valley Forge, commissioned for the 1976 Bicentennial celebration.
Of all the more than 200 Mountie pictures Arnold Friberg has painted through the years, this one stands alone! For while the former ones were created first for use on calendars and advertising for The Northwest Paper Company, this special commemorative subject was painted purely and exclusively for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Along with its limited edition prints, this new painting was of officially commissioned by "E" Division NCO's Mess expressly to honor the 125th anniversary year of the R.C.M.P
1990 Release. Pictured here is "Climax," a unique steam locomotive manufactured by Climax Locomotive Company in Corty, Pennsylvania. Strictly a workhorse locomotive, it is instantly recognizable from its slanted cylinders, and the low gearing gives it the extra power for pulling heavy loads of timber. Also, the peculiar looking road bed - instead of rock, they utilized the most plentiful available material, timber.
Tales of the Force
1988 Release. This image introduced Arnold Friberg's art to the Canadians. It quickly became a sold out edition, and is now a highly sought after secondary market print. Looking into the rugged face of the storyteller, you feel the spirit that has made the RCMP famous throughout the world and an inspiration to all boys. (A personal note: Many people don't know that the young boy in the ski sweater is Arnold Friberg's son, Frank.)
Trail Ends at the Sea
It's been a long search, to the shores of the ocean, but the Mountie always gets his man. When we look closer, we see that the wanted man as pictured on the poster is working in the background, and we understand the dilemma of the stevedores who aren't sure if they will turn in their fellow worker. The reward poster is historically authentic, as is the detailed ship, the Star of Alaska,which plied the coastal waters from Alaska southward in the glory days of sailing ships.
Trouble for Butterfield
Image size 20" X 32"
Trouble for Butterfield
1993 Release. Available from the publisher. Rolling west out of Lordsburg, New Mexico, the Butterfield stagecoaches soon raced through the most dangerous point in the road, Apache Pass in the southeast corner of Arizona Territory. For it was here that apache warriors fell upon many an ill-fated coach. In this strong picture, Friberg has caught the intense drama of such an attack and the driver's desperate struggle to survive.
Image size 15" X 30"
Rich drama, brilliant color and historic detail combine in "Thunder Wagon" to capture a classic encounter between the funnel-stacked steam locomotive and the denizens of the West as only Arnold Friberg could.
1994 Release. Sold Out. One of the most astonishing feats of the saloon series is Friberg's lively depiction of interior light. This requires quite different effects from those appearing in his outdoor scenes. Of course, Friberg is highly renowned for his horse depictions, indoors or out. This saloon scene is given added variety with its splendid billiard table, the appaloosa and that fine Mexican.
Mind if I Join You, Gentlemen?
1989 Release. Sold Out. The first issue in Mr. Friberg's legendary saloon series. The artist relentlessly researched
the splendidly carved back bars, antique oil lamp fixtures, unusual walking canes, period clothing, wallpaper, bottles
and carved pictures frames to give these three paintings vigorous authenticity. You can almost hear the macho sounds you would hear if you entered that frontier saloon.