This painting depicts a story from the New Testament. Martha is busy working and serving the Savior while Mary sits at His feet to listen. When Martha appeals to the Savior for her sister’s help, He tells her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”1
This painting illustrates one of Teichert’s favorite themes, which is the compassion of Jesus Christ. Christ’s compassion is shown in this story as he lovingly corrects Martha without diminishing the good she does.
Mary is shown at the very center of the painting, wearing a bright red dress that catches the eye. The shape of the arch that surrounds the painting is echoed in the bent heads of Jesus and Martha. In Teichert’s portrayal, although Martha is busy working, she still bends her head to listen to Christ. Minerva Teichert often painted scripture stories that feature women. One scholar speculates, “Perhaps she felt keenly drawn to this particular domestic theme because it reflected a part of her own life—that of teaching the gospel to her family while creating her paintings in her home in Cokeville, Wyoming.”2
Further reading: “Mary and Martha, Faithful Sisters, Devoted Disciples”
- Luke 10:41-42
- Museum of Church History and Art, Images of Faith: Art of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995), 77