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Brigham Young museum readies exhibition of Christ paintings by Carl Bloch

November 2, 2010 |  2:10 pm

Christhealingthesick If the Mormon church has a favorite artist, it may be 19th century Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch, whose florid depictions of the life of Jesus Christ are often featured in literature and other promotional material published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This month, Brigham Young University's Museum of Art in Utah will present "Carl Bloch: The Master's Hand," an exhibition featuring five of the artist's large altar paintings from churches in Denmark and Sweden. The show will have additional religious paintings and etchings by Bloch on loan from Danish institutions, said the museum.

"Carl Bloch" is set to run Nov. 12 through May 7 at the museum's location in Provo. Admission is free but visitors must register online for tickets.

Bloch, who died in 1890, was a Lutheran and his life pre-dated the rise of Mormonism around the world. His paintings of Christ are colorful representations that depict the Messiah with devotional respect and fervency. Among the works on display in the museum show will be Bloch's 1883 painting "Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda," which the Mormon church acquired in 2001.

The Mormon church is believed to have started using Bloch's paintings during the 1950s. The museum said on its website that the church has reproduced Bloch's paintings in publications such as Improvement Era magazine, Ensign magazine and numerous official manuals.

Bloch studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art as well as in Italy. In addition to religious-themed paintings, the artist created numerous portraits and landscape works. His work can be found in Lutheran churches and other religious institutions in Denmark.

The new exhibition at Brigham Young University is being heavily promoted by various media outlets run by the Mormon church. (The university is a private institution that is owned by the church.)

Adherents to the Mormon faith espouse a belief in Jesus Christ, but they generally view the Holy Bible as incomplete. The Book of Mormon, published in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr., is the central text in the religion. Smith has said that he received the text written on holy plates from the angel Moroni.

-- David Ng

Photo (top): Carl Bloch's "Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda." Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo (bottom): Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Credit: Michael Yarish / Comedy Central

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