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Sacred Art Appreciation: Carl Heinrich Bloch

January 20, 2011

The Monday before Christmas we took the opportunity to visit the BYU Museum of Art and view this exhibit: Carl Bloch: The Master’s Hand.  It was an amazing experience!

A little over a year ago, I posted about visiting the MOA for the Royal Holloway exhibit and how I was so impressed by seeing Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda of Bloch upon exiting that exhibit.  When we found out that BYU had managed to put together an entire show of Bloch’s artwork, I knew we had to come back.  From the MOA’s website:

Carl Bloch: The Master’s Hand features the artwork of Carl Bloch, the 19th-century Danish artist whose paintings on the life of the Savior are often used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and greatly loved by its members.

The exhibition features five large altarpieces. Four of these have come from Lutheran churches in Denmark and Sweden, their first departure from their native locations. The much beloved Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda, however, was acquired by the Museum in 2001 and remains a part of its permanent collection. Along with the altarpieces, nearly thirty additional religious and genre works will appear as part of the exhibition.

Many Christians are familiar with Bloch’s artwork. What they are familiar with, however, are reproductions at a fraction of their original size. Experiencing the original paintings sheds new light on their subject matter. The Museum of Art has gone to great lengths to showcase the splendor of Bloch’s altar paintings in a setting that gives viewers a sense of their original context.

Splendor is right.  The altar pieces were absolutely stunning.  It really is different to view them in their true size rather than in small reproductions.  I really liked how they were set up in such a way that you felt like you were in a church rather than in a museum.  My new favorite is Christ and the Young Child.

The boys really liked the paintings as well, I think partly because Bloch is so familiar to us as Latter-day Saints.  They looked quietly at most of the artwork and even read quite a few of the accompanying plaques.  One of the docents asked A how old he was, and when he replied that he was ten, she said that was about how many years it took to put together this exhibit.  It is a once in a lifetime collection of Bloch’s artwork.  I’m so glad we decided to go.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate Christ’s life and ministry in the days before Christmas.

We have never been great at fitting art into our schedule, but I think it is so critical to surround ourselves with beautiful things, so we have decided to study Carl Bloch and his artwork through the Sacred Art Appreciation plans found at Truelight Academy.  Each Sunday we introduce a new painting, read about it in our new book about Bloch, and post it on our entertainment center (the pseudo-bulletin board) for the following week.  This week’s is The Birth of Christ. I’ve always loved this picture as well.

One day we’ll get to Fredericksborg Castle to see the rest of Bloch’s paintings from the life of Christ in person.  For now we’ll be content with what is on display at BYU.  We have plans to return after we have finished our artist study.

If you are anywhere within driving distance, I urge you to go!   It will be here only until May 7, 2011.  Free tickets can be reserved online here.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. jenw permalink
    January 20, 2011 11:38 am

    We went to see this a couple of weeks ago and loved it as well. I have always loved the detail in I can’t remember which painting of Christ holding a child’s hand in between his fingers as they both look off to the side. Love the detail of that tiny hand in His. When we went, there was hardly anyone there. We also took the opportunity to eat upstairs at the cafe, where I ate as an undergraduate whenever I could afford it.

  2. January 20, 2011 12:22 pm

    This past summer while visiting Utah my brother took us through BYU’s Musuem of Art. There were so many full sized paintings! I was in awe of how large they really are. It was beautiful. I would love to see the Carl Bloch exhibit.

  3. Michelle permalink
    January 20, 2011 3:35 pm

    We’re going to this exhibit in February–I can’t wait!

  4. January 21, 2011 7:08 am

    Great we are coming out skiing to Utah and I am putting this on my BYU/Provo stop! I loved seeing his work in Copenhagen- I can’t wait to show the whole family now without having to buy an airline ticket! Yeahhh

  5. January 22, 2011 9:50 pm

    We, too, are studying Bloch this term—just started after New Years—with a visit to the exhibit on the agenda for later in the spring.

    I’m curious about the book you linked to. Does it have information on each painting in the exhibit? Could you give me a sense of what the writing is like? (very dry?)


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