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PROVO -- After nearly nine years in the planning, curators at Brigham Young University are about to open an exhibit they are calling a once-in-a-lifetime experience for visitors: "Carl Bloch:The Master's Hand."
After years of planning and negotiating with Danish museums and churches, the priceless paintings -- national treasures -- traveled by air during an international terror alert late last week. Still, they arrived safely and will remain in Utah for six months.
The finest artwork of a great painter, Carl Bloch -- that is what visitors to the Museum of Art are about to experience. The largest pieces came from Danish churches, removed temporarily from the most sacred areas where parishioners receive communion. The request was unusual; agreeing to it, equally so.
Dawn Pheysey, curator of religious art at the Museum of Art, said, "But to ask the churches to let us borrow their altar paintings, which is the focal point of their church, was a true sacrifice on their part."
Bloch's subtle creation of lamplight or sunlight moves even those familiar with the works.
Pauline Lehmann Banke, the conservator from Denmark, said she worked one particular painting before all of the paintings came here, and she became very fond of it. Then she saw the larger one.
"I had just recently restored the smaller version of it, and to see the larger one, as I did two weeks before I left, wow!" she said.
That is what curators believe many will say when they see "Christ in Gethsemane."
Carl Bloch was an Evangelical Lutheran but Latter-day Saints are familiar with his works because reproductions hang in their meetinghouses and appear in Church publications.
"To see these altar paintings in their true size, see the real thing, there is nothing like it. They are amazing," Pheysey said.
No one was unimportant to Carl Bloch. A Danish writer said of him, "He dipped his paintbrush in his heart."
The Museum of Art, which is on campus at Brigham Young University, will have extended hours for this exhibit. It is free, but you have to register online for tickets.