Sculptor honored in Norway

VATS, Norway — Torleif S. Knaphus, 1881-1965, an early Church artist and sculptor most famous for his "Handcart Pioneers" monument on Temple Square, was remembered here in his hometown Aug. 21.

About 150 people gathered at the farmland called Knappus where a seven-foot tall stone memorial was placed in his honor. The monument holds a bronze bas-relief of Knaphus' most famous artwork, including the Hill Cumorah Monument in New York, the "Woman at the Well" on the Cardston Alberta Temple, the terra cotta relief around the Mesa Arizona Temple and baptismal fonts at the Oakland, Cardston, Mesa and Idaho Falls temples.

Also on the monument is a plaque telling his life story, stating: "At age 20 years old he studied art at the Kings Art and Drawing School in Kritsiania (now Oslo). He converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrated to the U.S.A. to be with others of his belief. . . . Torleif was very fond of Norway and his family that lived here. He worked hard with genealogy and some of his lines are clear back to 1100. One of his lines is documented to King Harald of Denmark about 840 AD. Torleif's religious belief is that family and love are forever."

In attendance at the event were two of the artist's children and other family members, including those who live in Norway. Jarl Sjurseike, owner of the property, who contributed a small park for the monument, also attended.

A choir from the Stavanger Branch, Oslo Norway Stake, sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints" in Norwegian honoring the trek of the handcart pioneer saints. A local band also played.

After the unveiling ceremony the mayor and town of Vats hosted a program at the community hall that was presented by the family and translated into Norwegian.

"It was really spiritual and inspirational," said Bryan Knaphus, the oldest surviving son who attended.