Torleif Knaphus

Torleif Soviren Knaphus
Studied At/With
Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry
Academie Julien
Art Students league, New York
Born 14 December 1881
Died 14 June 1965

Torleif Knaphus

Torleif Knaphus was born in Vats, Rogaland, Norway. His father was Lars Larsen. His mother was Liva Sakariassen Alfseike Knaphus. Knaphus joined the Church in 1902 and emigrated to Utah 1906.

Knaphus studied under Harriet Backer at her Oslo school, under Lats Utne at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry, at the Académie Julian in Paris and the Art Students league in New York.

His other works for the Church include assisting Avard Fairbanks with the oxen and sculptures at Laie Temple. He sculpted both the oxen in the Cardston Alberta Temple baptistery as well as a frieze titled ”Christ the Fountainhead.” It stood outside the temple and was later moved inside the temple waiting room during a remodel and expansion. Copies of the frieze can be found in the waiting room at the Provo Utah Temple, on the exterior of the Edgehill Ward meetinghouse in Sugarhouse Utah, and various LDs Chapels throughout the world. He carved the oxen for the baptismal font at the Mesa Arizona Temple as well as the 8 terracotta friezes that run around the outside of the upper portion of the temple. He sculpted the oxen for the baptismal font at the Idaho Falls Temple, and assisted with the oxen for the font of the Oakland Temple and the Moroni statue at the Los Angeles Temple.

CumorahKnaphus is famous for having carved the 10’ Moroni statue on the Cumorah Monument. The whole monument was, in truth, Brother Knaphus’s idea once he heard the church had acquired the Cumorah property. The drive behind the statue was Torlief’s own firm testimony of the restoration of the gospel and the visitation of the Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith Jr. Torleif felt the design of the monument was guided from on high. He once described to a friend a moment of prayer, where he was shown which of his seven created designs was to be used for the monument. Additionally, he was told during that prayer that he should go to the Brethren at the administration building to propose the monument on the following day and that the Brethren would be waiting for him. He found that not only were the Brethren expecting his visit, but they unanimously selected the same design he had been shown.

Gallery of Knaphus’s Work


Doris White “Torleif Knaphus, Mormon Artist and Genealogist”
Tom Alder, February 2009.
William G. Hartley “Torleif Knaphus, Sculptor Saint” Ensign, July 1980
“Torleif S. Knaphus”
“Torlief S. Knaphus Personal and Family Events”

Knaphus’s Moroni