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Carl Bloch originals coming to Utah for special exhibit

By Carole Mikita  |  Posted Aug 17th, 2010 @ 10:10pm


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PROVO -- The religious paintings of Denmark's most beloved artist are on their way to Utah. BYU's Museum of Art will host the exhibit of the world-renowned Carl Bloch this fall.

Who is... Carl Bloch?
Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890) was a Danish painter, who's early work featured rural scenes from everyday life. He began painting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ when commissioned to produce 23 paintings for the Chapel at Frederiksborg Palace in Denmark. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has extensively used Bloch's paintings of Christ for the past several decades.

Bloch was a 19th century Danish artist whose works are now considered national treasures. For some to literally be removed from church altars to come to Utah is nothing short of amazing, but it's for an exhibit that has been nine years in development.

In the picturesque country of Denmark, beautiful Lutheran churches house some of the world's finest religious art. Christians, the world over, revere Bloch's paintings of the Savior.

"Christ and Child" serves as a stunning altar piece at St. Nicholas Church.

"When you come into the church, your eyes find the picture firstly -- not the furniture, not the gold, not the candles, but the picture," said Hanne Korsby, parish council president at Sankt Nikolai Kirke.

For more than 100 years, the painting has remained the focal point at the church, located just outside Copenhagen. Now it is one of several works coming to BYU's Museum of Art as part of a special exhibition.

"We are very fond of the picture, and so fond of it that we think we should share it with others," Korsby said. "We are very proud that you will have our painting at your exhibition in your country, so we think it's a very big honor."

Carl Heinrich Bloch: The Master's Hand
In November the BYU Museum of Art the Carl Bloch exhibition that has been in development for the past nine years. The exhibition will feature the life and work of Bloch, the nineteenth-century Danish artist whose paintings on the life of the Savior are often used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The focal point of the exhibition will be the five large altar paintings. One of these works is Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda, which has become the signature piece of the museum since its acquisition in September 2001. The other four altar paintings will be borrowed from churches in Denmark and Sweden- for the first time since they were originally installed in the late 1800s.

But the Danes will miss their paintings. "Christ Mocked by a Soldier," which will also travel to Provo, it has a unique place in another church.

"The corner where Carl Bloch's painting is will usually be filled with happy people who are having their children baptized," said Inger Marie Dahl, parish council president at Ordrup Kirke.

Bloch's "The Resurrection of Christ," housed in David Kirke, makes parishioners and visitors alike stop and stare.

"I do understand why they didn't want to lend it to Utah. They would miss it," said Anne-Mette Gravgaard, priest at David Kirke. "You have to ask when you see this picture, or this Tableau: What does it mean?"

Now there will be such questions asked half a world away, as the paintings are carefully removed for a trip to Utah to join "Healing at the Pool of Bethesda," a Bloch painting donated to the BYU museum in 2001 -- now its signature piece.

The exhibit will open Nov. 12 and remain until May 7, 2011. The museum will sponsor special lectures and tours.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com

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