Upcoming Museum of Art exhibit will feature rare religious art

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The Museum of Art has announced that a new exhibit, “Sacred Gifts: The Religious Arts of Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hofmann and Franz Schwartz,” will be coming to Provo this November. Most of these 20 paintings have never been on display in the United States. Some have not been displayed at all for hundreds of years.

Those who visit the free exhibit will likely recognize many of the works from church manuals and various church buildings. Some of Bloch’s work was previously displayed at the Museum of Art (MOA) in 2010–2011. Hilarie Ashton, the marketing and public relations manager for the museum, said that the recent Carl Bloch show was one of the highest attended museum exhibitions in the country. The museum expects even more visitors to stop by during the upcoming exhibit.

The paintings will be borrowed from museums and churches in Germany, Denmark, Sweden and New York. Due to the difficulty of borrowing the paintings, they will likely not be exhibited again. Dawn Pheysey, the curator of religious art at the MOA, has worked closely with the museums and churches to make the exhibit possible. Pheysey said that many of these pieces are displayed in churches as an altarpiece.

The MOA will bring eight paintings of the life of Christ by Carl Bloch to Utah from the Frederiksborg Castle near Copenhagen, Denmark for an upcoming religious art exhibition.
The MOA will bring eight paintings of the life of Christ by Carl Bloch to Utah from the Frederiksborg Castle near Copenhagen, Denmark for an upcoming religious art exhibition. (Photo courtesy the Museum of Art)

“After years of building relationships and negotiating with them, we were able to receive permission to borrow these works,” Pheysey said. “It is one thing to ask a museum to borrow an art work — museums are used to lending and borrowing, but to ask a church to borrow their altarpiece is another matter.”

Those at the museum do not accept these paintings without returning the favor. They have replaced the borrowed altarpieces with a glicée print of the same size as the original. They have also promised to return the pieces in better condition.

“In exchange for borrowing the prized works for this exhibition, the MOA is hiring conservators to clean each of the paintings prior to the exhibition opening,” Ashton said. “During this tedious process, conservators revitalize the works and restore them to their original condition.”

Ashton said that some of the rare works include two paintings of Jesus in the Temple by Hofmann. There will also be eight paintings from the Life of Christ by Carl Bloch on loan from the Frederiksborg Castle in Denmark. The castle representative has said that these paintings have never been on loan before and will never be again. Four of the paintings will be displayed until February, and then they will be replaced by the next four until the exhibit closes in May 2014.

Emily Mueller from Walnut Creek, Calif., said that she is excited to see the exhibit.

Carl Bloch's altar painting "Christus Consolator," from the Hörups Kyrka in Sweden, will be one of many  popular paintings on view at the upcoming religious exhibition.
Carl Bloch’s altar painting “Christus Consolator,” from the Hörups Kyrka in Sweden, will be one of many popular paintings on view at the upcoming religious exhibition. (Photo courtesy the Museum of Art)

“I cannot wait to see these amazing paintings,” said Mueller. “I will be going at least twice so I can see all of the Bloch paintings. The last exhibit was beautiful and I think this one will be even more exciting!”

Those who want to register for free tickets or find more information can go online at moa.byu.edu/sacred-gifts. Priority registration for tickets will begin in September.

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