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Courtesy of BYU-MOA
Self-portrait of Danish artist Carl Bloch.

PROVO — Beginning in 2010, more than 306,000 visitors saw the works of Danish painter Carl Bloch at BYU's Museum of Art.

Now, thanks to an unprecedented agreement, the Frederiksberg Castle museum in Denmark will loan eight additional Bloch paintings from the King’s Oratory’s "Life of Christ" series to BYU as part of a new exhibit.

"These paintings have never before been out of the Oratory since they were installed (in the 1860s and 1870s) … and they will not be loaned again," castle director Mette Skougaard said in a press release.

Starting in November, the BYU Museum of Art will open a free exhibit that features not only Bloch's greatest commissioned work, but also works by two other 19th century artists depicting the life of Christ. "Sacred Gifts: The Religious Art of Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hofmann, and Frans Schwartz," will run until May 2014.

"As an art historian, and as a believer, no single work is adequate to portray the being that is Jesus Christ," said museum director Mark Magleby. "But some (artists), through their expertise combined with their faith, come closer than others."

In addition to pieces from Bloch's "Life of Christ" series, the exhibit will feature other Bloch pieces as well as works from Hofmann and Schwartz. This exhibit marks the American display debut for many of these original works.

Though some patrons will be unfamiliar with Hofmann's name, Magleby said many will be surprised at how many of the artist's works they already know. Hofmann's "Jesus in the Temple," "Christ and the Rich Young Ruler" and "Christ in Gethsemane" are used in religious literature and publications.

"And Schwartz is the surprise of the show," Magleby said. "We are only getting a few of his works, but they are remarkable."

Pieces for the exhibit are being loaned from churches and museums in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the United States.

The new exhibit follows the success of “Carl Bloch: The Master's Hand," which ran from 2010-11 and was the first exhibit of Bloch's religious paintings in more than a century.

"We have extraordinarily given this permission in recognition of the great importance these images have for the people of Utah, and will for this occasion share the unique works with people in another continent who have a special appreciation for the religious works of Bloch," Skougaard said in the press release.

BYU Museum of Art head curator Dawn Pheysey said "Sacred Gifts" will feature all new art.

"This exhibit is totally new. We are able to borrow paintings we were not able to borrow the first time," Pheysey said. "It is the completion of the exhibit."

Museum officials expounded on the theme of "gifts" that has become the essence of the exhibit.

"As we began looking at the paintings and the artists we wanted to include in this exhibition, we realized the art and the message of the exhibition itself was really the result of many gifts such as the God-given talents of the artists,” Pheysey said. “They are magnificent and not only uplifted people in their lifetime but continue to uplift and edify all Christians all over the world today.”

Magleby said another gift was the current owners of the art being able to fathom what the museum was asking for when it requested to borrow these beloved works.

Another gift, Magleby said, is the generous donations of museum patrons that will make the exhibit a free-ticketed event.

Though the exhibit is at no cost to the public, the museum is accepting donations online and during the event.

“Sacred Gifts: The Religious Art of Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hofmann, and Frans Schwartz,” will run Nov. 15 to May 10, 2014.

Other paintings in the exhibit include Bloch’s “The Resurrection” and “The Sermon on the Mount,” Hofmann’s “The Capture of Christ” and Schwartz’s “Agony in the Garden.”

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com or on Twitter: @emmiliebuchanan