Liturgical Living

The Popular Paintings of Carl Bloch

I’d like to introduce you to a painter that I bet you haven’t heard of but I’m sure whose work you’d like to get to know… His name is Carl Bloch and today would’ve been his 185thbirthday.
I believe he painted some of the most realistic and detailed paintings there are of Jesus Christ and of His life and ministry. I am blown away by the emotion he is able to capture with a brush and the life he is able to bring to a 2D print. Many times, I walk through museums looking at artwork from this time period (mid-1800s) or at the human form and think that there’s just a little something off. Well not with Bloch. Just click on some of the pieces I’ve copied below, and you’ll immediately know what I mean. But don’t let that stop you… you can check out the rest of his work online, or in this beautiful book that not only highlights his most popular pieces, but gives the Bible story that goes along with them. (That is an Amazon Affiliate link, meaning if you purchase from it, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, so thank you. 😊) Here are a few of my favorite pieces…
Mary Visits Elizabeth / Woman at the Well / Peter’s Denial
(But be sure to look up: Let the Children Come to Me, The Healing of the Blind Bartimaeus, and The Last Supper too!)
Bloch was born one of ten children in Copenhagen, Denmark, raised in the fear of God and the beauty of simplicity. He chose an education as a Navy Cadet but the only lessons he enjoyed were those of drawing and painting. He ended up failing his Navy examination and thus devoted all his time and talent to painting, studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. His artwork gained popularity and he was commissioned to paint 23 new pieces for King Christian IV’s chapel at Frederiksborg Castle (just outside Copenhagen). This collection, known mostly as the Life of Christ, remains his most popular work. And now, even 100 years after his death, aspiring artists still pilgrimage to that chapel to study his original paintings.
There’s another reason Bloch has captured a special piece of my heart though… I actually studied abroad for a semester in Copenhagen and visited Frederiksborg Castle in 2000 and skipped right over the chapel. It wasn’t until I took my husband back there in 2006 to visit my host family that we returned to that beautiful castle for a tour of the inside and the grounds. When walking towards the rear of the chapel, I stopped dead in my tracks. There on display were some of the most beautiful paintings I had ever seen of Jesus, depicting him in ways I had never seen before. But it wasn’t just that. I was staring at a painting that was literally on the cover of the book I had been carrying around Europe with us on our trip, reading every day. WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Seriously! This was the painting, titled, The Sermon on the Mount.
I love the guy in the front leaning on the rock with his hands folded… hanging on His every word. I’d like to think that’d be me, soaking it all up, thinking, this sounds a little difficult, but worth it! I hope I wouldn’t be the guy with my back to him, lookin’ all skeptical, or like the child distracted by the butterfly on the woman suffering with a headache (although she’s most accurately me). So anyway, I love this painting because of that piece of coincidental history but because of all the little details in the piece as well. It is a reminder that I can be any one of those listeners at any time in my life based on how I am living out Jesus’ teachings. I ended up purchasing this print online and hanging it in a place in our home where I see it multiple times a day.

Here is a picture of the rear of the castle I took on our trip in 2006 and a picture I found online of the interior of the rear of the chapel where Bloch’s paintings are housed.

Thanks for letting me share my affection for this man’s talent and the joy it has brought to my life. I am grateful Carl Bloch was born so that he could share his remarkable talent with the world.

“We have different gifts,<span class=”crossreference” data-cr=”#cen-NIV-28252A” data-link=”(A)” style=”background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”> according to the grace given to each of us.” Romans 12:6 (NIV)

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