May 23, 2017
Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), Self Portrait, 1880, etching, 4 9/16 x 3 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by J. Robert and Lisa Wheatley, 2001.
Danish artist Carl Heinrich Bloch was born on this day in 1834. Bloch had an early interest in art and, though his mother wanted to him to go into a more lucrative career, Bloch was completely devoted to art. He entered the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen at the age of 15. From there, he won prizes to study in Rome and while there sent paintings back to Denmark for the annual exhibitions, which paintings and drawings became very popular.
Popularity and acclaim followed Bloch throughout his life, though public opinion of him changed drastically after his death. As new style of art eclipsed the studied realism of the academies, it seemed that Bloch’s dream of an enduring legacy for his work had to come to an end. But sixty years following his death, Bloch’s paintings of the life of Christ came to the attention of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since that time, images of his paintings have taken a prominent position in Latter-day Saint meetinghouse, temples, and visitors’ centers.
Although he was an accomplished portraitist, genre and landscape painter, as well as historical painter, Bloch felt that his religious paintings were his greatest contributions.
Information from exhibition catalog Sacred Gifts: The Religious Art of Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hofmann, and Frans Schwartz, Carl Heinrich Bloch: A Devoted Believer by Dawn C. Pheysey.
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