BETA

BYU acquires Bloch altarpiece

The Brigham Young University Museum of Art has acquired a large oil painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch — a Danish master whose depictions of Christ are well-known to many Church members.

Carl Heinrich Bloch's oil "Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda" depicts the Savior as a healer and comforter. A religious illustrator, Bloch is one of Denmark's most revered artists. His work is familiar to many Church members.
Carl Heinrich Bloch's oil "Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda" depicts the Savior as a healer and comforter. A religious illustrator, Bloch is one of Denmark's most revered artists. His work is familiar to many Church members. Photo: Courtesy BYU Museum of Art

"Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda" is an 8.4'x10.48' oil on canvas that will be an altarpiece in the museum's permanent collection. The acquisition was made possible through the generosity of Museum donors Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley.

Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy and president of BYU said Bloch's painting captures the spirit of the Savior.

"The magnificent painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch of 'Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda' portrays Christ both as a healer and a comforter," Elder Bateman said. "Christ's healing power is more than physical. He has the power to make a person whole, to heal the soul as well as the body. The original painting, a wonderful gift, will be a constant reminder of our heritage and mission."

The painting has hung at the Bethesda Indre Mission in Copenhagen, Denmark, since 1883. Its depiction of Christ ministering to the afflicted offers a message of hope, empathy and compassion. Many of Bloch's paintings are familiar to Church members, having appeared in many Church publications.

Museum director Campbell Gray called the painting "a wonderful icon in the Church."

The painting was inspired by a courageous episode in the Savior's life when He healed an invalid near Bethesda's bubbling pools on the Sabbath, Brother Gray said. Christ's actions — as depicted in Bloch's painting — serve as metaphors for the healing, supportive power of the Savior and His Church.

The painting teaches its viewers "that we always have someone to lift us, not only past our sins but to successes we could not reach by ourselves," Brother Gray said.

Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890) painted more than 20 major pieces on the life of the Savior. Bloch is also known to have studied with LDS artist C.C.A. Christensen — a fellow Dane who captured the pioneer experience in a panorama of large paintings.

"Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda" will be available for public viewing at the museum in mid-November. There is no charge.

The museum is located on North Campus Drive on the BYU campus.