When the angel Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in September 1823, he spoke of “a book … written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent” (Joseph Smith—History 1:34). The translation of these plates became the Book of Mormon.
Joseph’s mother, Lucy, wrote of the time period when Joseph was discovering the stories of the Book of Mormon for himself: “Joseph gave us some of the most amusing recitals which could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, their manner of traveling, the animals which they rode, the cities that they built, and the structure of their buildings with every particular; their mode of warfare, and their religious worship as specifically as though he had spent his life with them.” 1
As we read the Book of Mormon today, its stories easily capture our imagination. Latter-day Saint artists have created works that strive to capture the power, excitement, and inspiration of some of the stories from the book. A few of their works are pictured here.
Courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art
“And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me [Samuel the Lamanite], and he did bring glad tidings to my soul” (Helaman 13:7).
“I looked up, and beheld the same messenger … [who] commanded me to go to my father and tell him of the vision and commandments which I had received” (Joseph Smith—History 1:49).
© Ken Corbett
“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens” (Enos 1:4).
1950–51, oil on masonite, 35 15/16 x 48 inches, courtesy of Brigham Young University Museum of Art
“But, said [Lehi], not withstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed” (2 Nephi 1:5).
1950–51, oil on masonite, 36 x 48 inches, courtesy of Brigham Young University Museum of Art
“Now there was a place in Shemlon where the daughters of the Lamanites did gather themselves together to sing, and to dance, and to make themselves merry” (Mosiah 20:1).
“And it came to pass that while my father [Lehi] tarried in the wilderness he spake unto us, saying: Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision” (1 Nephi 8:2).
“And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Nephi 8:10).
“And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit” (1 Nephi 8:11–12).
“And after this manner [Alma] did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about two hundred and four souls; yea, and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God” (Mosiah 18:16).
Courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art
“And it came to pass that after we [Nephi and his brothers] had come down into the wilderness unto our father, behold, he was filled with joy, and also my mother, Sariah, and was exceedingly glad, for she truly had mourned because of us. …
“And when we had returned to the tent of my father, behold their joy was full, and my mother was comforted” (1 Nephi 5:1, 7).
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land.
“And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land … and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:22–23).
“And when [Christ] had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
“And when he had done this he wept again;
“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
“And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them” (3 Nephi 17:21–24).
Except as noted, all images courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art International Art Competition
History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor (1996), 112.