The Life and Art of Carl Heinrich Bloch

A week or so ago, I found something interesting when I was doing the research for another blog post. I discovered an artist named Carl Bloch. :) I realized that I already recognized a lot of his work and hadn't realized that it was all made by the same man... or even who that man was. So I wanted to take a few minutes today and share a little bit about him and his artwork- I am guessing that several of my readers will have the same recognitions on some of the artwork that I did.

Carl Heinrich Bloch was born on May 23, 1834 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was the son of a merchant named Joergen and his wife Ida Bloch. His parents were hopeful for him to join the ranks of sea captains or the Navy. He, however, was consumed with drawing and art and loved the idea of becoming an artist- not a respectable profession according to his parents.

It was in 1849, his parent's gave in and allowed Carl to draw in his spare time in the evenings at the Royal Danish Academy of Art. He attended the W. Marstrand Model School in 1851 as well as the Academy. In 1852, he won an award for one of his drawing there and in 1855, Carl Bloch joined the Academy. In August 1859 he received a travel grant from the Academy which he used to travel to Holland, France and Italy with a fellow artist. Carl Bloch met his wife in Rome. Her name was Alma Trepka and they were married in May 1868 and later had eight children. They appeared to be happy and prosperous together until she died in January 1886. His sorrow at her death weighed much on his life.

While Mr Bloch painted (and did so very well) etching was his preferred medium for showing emotion. To the artist, the art of etching was a sublime tool to show and express these strong and pain-stricken emotions.

Mr Bloch served as a professor at the Royal Academy of Art in 1883 and also served as a vice-director. He was also decorated with “The Cross of an Order of Chivalry” and “The Medal of the Dannebrogmen”. Besides religious work, he did many other genre and portrait painting that are beautiful and enthralling as well. Some of his political works are great favorites in his country. His over twenty paintings for the King's Praying Chamber are as well as this altarpieces for the same place are considered to be among the best of his works. Carl Bloch died of stomach cancer on February 22, 1890. Even one hundred years later, many students who wish to study the life of Jesus and attempt to illustrate it, travel to Denmark to study these paintings.

The commission that he received to paint the 23 paintings for The Praying Chamber changed not only Carl Bloch's personal life but also his artistic legacy... and some have recognized Carl Bloch as perhaps the greatest artist ever to interpret the life and death of Christ. I am listing many of his paintings and a few etchings on the life of Jesus Christ below... along with scripture verses and I have tried to put them in the order they happened in the Savior's life.

Details of Mary and the Angel (Luke 1:30–32, 35... "The angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt … bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall … be called the Son of God.”)

Mary's Visit to Elizabeth
(Luke 1:41–42... "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.")

Detail of The Annunciation to the Shepards (Luke 2:10–11... "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.")

The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:7... "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”)

The Nativity Etching

Fleeing to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15... "And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.")

The Shedding of Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18... "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.")

The Twelve-Year-Old Jesus in the Temple
(Luke 2:46–47... "After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.”)

Get Thee Hence, Satan
(Matt. 4:10... Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.")

Christ and the Samaritan Woman (John 4:13-14... "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water … shall be in him a well … springing up into everlasting life.”)

The Marriage at Cana (John 2:9, 11... "When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom... This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.")

The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1–3... "When he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”)

The healing of the Daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:49-56... "While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.")

Go Ye Therefore

Christ Healing the Sick at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:5–6... "A certain man … had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?”)

The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2, 4... "And after six days Jesus taketh [with him] Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.")

Christ Healing the Blind Man
(John 9:1, 6–7... "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.")

Suffer the Little Children to Come unto Me (Matt. 19:13–14... "Then were there brought unto him little children, … and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”)

The Resurrection of Lazarus
(John 11:43–44... "And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.")

Christ Cleansing the Temple (John 2:15–16... "And said unto them … , Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”)

The Last Supper
(Luke 22:15–16... "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.")

Christ at Gesthemane
(Matthew 26:36-39...“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, Sit here while I go and pray over there. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.")

Peter's Denial (Luke 22:61–62... "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.")

The Repentance of Peter

The Crucifixion
(John 19:28, 30... "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.")

The Burial of Christ (John 19:40–42... "Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.")

The Road to Emmaus
(Luke 24:13-16... "And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while the communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.”)

The Doubtful Thomas (John 20:27-28... "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.")

Peter's Remorse

Here is a self portrait that is currently on exhibit in Italy of the artist.

The next few paragraphed were published in 1991 in an article for the Ensign magazine. They were written by Jay M. Todd and describe how the LDS church received permission to use the paintings for its work/worship:

Twenty-eight years ago, a selection of paintings on the life of Jesus by nineteenth-century Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch was published for members of the Church (see Improvement Era, Nov. 1962). Since then, scenes from that selection have been used many times in Church manuals and publications. Now, in this issue of the Ensign, they are published together again to tell the matchless story of the Lord.

Eighteen of the twenty paintings reproduced here are on the walls of the oratory in the Frederiksborg Castle church. Today, castle and church are a museum of national history and a Danish treasure. Because of the paintings’ utility for Church publications, representatives of the Church approached Frederiksborg Museum officials last year. We desired to rephotograph the paintings and asked if it would be possible for the scenes to be taken from the walls to receive better photographic lighting. Museum officials accepted the request, concluding also that while they were down, the paintings should be cleaned to again make vivid colors that had been dimmed by a century of accumulating dust while on public display.

Following this cleaning, the museum photographed the paintings; eighteen are reproduced on the following pages. In addition to the Frederiksborg paintings, two other paintings by Bloch are printed here: the scene at the pool of Bethesda, located at Bethesda Dansk Indre Mission, in Copenhagen, and the scene of Thomas kneeling before the resurrected Jesus, located at the church in Uggerlose, near Copenhagen.

I hope that you liked this post and please feel free to comment. What do some of these images mean to you? Which is your favorite? Are any of these images 'old hat' to you? Which ones are new? :)


  1. Some of the pictures you have above are not Carl Bloch's. He did paint pictures, but you don't have all of the correct ones up. For example The Daughter of Jairus is a Greg Olsen picture not Carl Bloch's.

  2. Thank you for pointing that out- I haven't been sure that I had the right picture of the daughter of Jarius even though I got it from a website devoted to his work. Besides that particular painting, do you have suggestions on the others? Your comment suggests that several are wrong, but only mentions the one by name.

  3. I have now redone all the research on the paintings and I think that this post is now fine. I found nothing wrong withe the exception of the one painting. Thank you for pointing it out and if you believe there are any more problems, please let me know as I couldn't find them. :)

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