Loeb Danish Ardt Collection - page 86

CARL HEINRICH BLOCH
     ‒     
Carl Bloch was considered the most promising young artist of his day, ful
fi
lling its ideals to a rare
extent and indeed even surpassing them. He entered the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in

shortly after the deaths of J. Thomas Lundbye and Christen Købke and only shortly before Danish
artistic life was also to lose C.W. Eckersberg, who stood as the epitome of the Danish Golden Age.
With the recognition of the advent of a new generation it was natural that great expectations should
be placed on the young artists showing ability as
fi
gure painters. As a pupil of Wilhelm Marstrand
Bloch learned a more relaxed and more grandiose compositional technique than was the norm in
painters of the Golden Age. This included the use of two-point perspective, which Marstrand had
from classical Venetian painting, and used frequently in his later work. Bloch, among others, was later
to show himself to be one of the master’s distinguished heirs in the use of two-point perspective.
After attending the Academy, Bloch spent the customary years in Italy where, using Marstrand as
his model, he painted a number of narrative genre pictures. These included some depicting monks in
comical situations, but there was also an important work such as
Fra et romersk osteria,

(
From a Roman Hostelry)
in Statens Museum for Kunst. It portrays two beautiful Italian women
partaking of a meal with a man who is demonstrating his jealousy in a way that con
fi
rms a north-
ern European’s notions of the Italian temperament. Bloch also early revealed himself to be an excel-
lent portraitist.
However, his real ambition was to gain a reputation as a
fi
gure painter in the grand historical
style. He was completely successful in this. Within the space of only two years he painted three
important works of vast dimensions that awoke the unreserved admiration of his day:
Samson i
Filistrenes trædemølle,

,
(Samson in the Philistines’ Treadmill)
,
Jairi datter,

( Jairus’s
Daughter),
both in Statens Museum for Kunst, and
fi
nally, the now lost
Prometheus’ befrielse,

,
(The Freeing of Prometheus)
, commissioned by the Danish born King George I of the Hel-
lenes. All bore the stamp of an overwhelming and hitherto unseen power of expression. Yet another
well-known important work is
Kong Christian II i fængslet på Sønderborg Slot,

(King
Christian II Imprisoned in Sønderborg Castle),
in Statens Museum for Kunst. In addition to
learning from the Italian High Renaissance and Baroque
fi
gure art, Bloch also derived inspiration
from Netherlandish painting, of which he had
fi
rst-hand experience, especially Rembrandt van Rijn
(


), who became the object of renewed interest during this period. A little later, he decorated
the prie-dieu in Frederiksborg Castle chapel and contributed several major works as decorations to the
great hall in Copenhagen University in Frue Plads.
From

to

Bloch was the leading
fi
gure among the younger Danish history painters. In his
youth he belonged to the group of “national” painters, but he later became one of the internationally-
oriented artists known as “Europeans.” His success was a beacon in this period of spiritual and polit-

]
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