Walter Rane’s Book of Mormon paintings were done as a response to President Ezra Taft Benson’s plea, “I challenge the homes of Israel to display on their walls great quotations and scenes from the Book of Mormon. . . . I have a vision of artists putting into film, drama, literature, music, and paintings great themes and great characters from the Book of Mormon.”1
This painting depicts the Book of Mormon prophet Ether. The title comes from this scripture: “Great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether, but they esteemed him as naught, and cast him out, and he hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, and by night he went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people”.2
Rane paints to evoke emotion rather than with a strict, photographic realism, and in this painting, the viewer has an immediate sense of the isolation and despair Ether feels.3 Ether is the only figure in this sweeping expanse of cave, paths, and stony walks. He kneels in prayer, his hand brought to his forehead as if in despair, with one hand resting on the plates that record his great and marvelous prophecies. This painting draws a stark contrast between Ether the seer, blessed with visions of Christ and the house of Israel, and the outcast prophet, hiding in a rock by day and venturing forth to witness his people’s destruction by night.
Ether’s last recorded words are these: “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen.”4