BYU’s Museum of Art acquired a new Carl Bloch painting June 4. “The Mocking of Christ” depicts a soldier crowning Jesus’ head in thorns and has been unavailable for purchase for more than 100 years. The painting will join “Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda” as Bloch’s second permanent painting in the Museum of Art.
Danish art dealer Peter Titelbech played a major role in BYU’s acquisition of the painting. The painting was completed in 1880 by Bloch and last sold in 1935, only to be rediscovered by Titelbech from a private collection at auction in December.
Titelbech previously knew of the museum’s history with Bloch paintings and immediately approached the Museum of Art with the opportunity to purchase the painting after convincing the auction house the painting needed to be sold to a private client.
“There are certain pieces that have one destination,” Titelbech said at a press conference. He said he convinced the auction house to sell the piece because he truly believes BYU is where it belongs.
Museum of Art Director Mark Magleby said BYU is a good place for this piece because many people around Utah, regardless of how knowledgeable about art they are, know a great deal about Bloch’s work.
The Wheatley family, who contributed “Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda” (the last Bloch painting available for purchase) to the museum, also purchased “The Mocking of Christ,” continuing a decade-long contribution to the Museum of Art.
Charles Wheatley said at the press conference it has been through many “miracles” that the museum has gotten these Bloch paintings and that they are meant to be at BYU.
Another version of the painting, featuring bright hues, was shown in the MOA’s Bloch exhibit “Sacred Gifts” last year. The newly acquired painting depicts Christ in gray and brown tones. Titelbech conducted extensive research, but so far there is no conclusion as to why Bloch created these different versions.
There is not an official release date of the painting for the public. The painting is set to go through conservation and will be put on display within the next few months.