Carl Heinrich Bloch's Christ at Gethsemane is a religious painting depicting the agony of Christ before his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, a major event in the tales of the New Testament. A preeminent Danish painter and seminal figure in the history of Nordic art, Bloch became fascinated by the works of the Dutch master Rembrandt through his journeys around Holland, France and Italy in furthering his studies. Settling in Rome for much of the mid-nineteenth century, Bloch became a driving force in European painting. Surrounding himself with the works of the Renaissance masters, Bloch set the technical foundations that would lead to the production of such moving and evocative reproductions of Biblical scenes as Christ at Gethsemane. As a genre painter of the highest regard, Bloch interwove his taste for images of folklore, resulting in an earthly, humble, and humanized take on the life of Christ. In later life, with his popularity consolidated, a Danish entrepreneur commissioned Bloch to paint 23 new works for a special royal chamber in the Frederiksborg Castle Chapel recently restored after a devastating fire.
Agreeing with his patron to depict faithful reproductions from the life of Christ, Bloch spent 14 years on this prestigious and demanding commission. For many the series he completed is the most moving and evocative take on the life of the Christian messiah. Returning frequently to his muse, Rembrandt, for inspiration, one can see in Bloch's Christ at Gethsemane the intimacy, allegory, and personality of the great etching Christ Healing the Sick. Interweaving various Biblical styles that pervaded Western painting, Bloch was a pan-European artist extraordinaire. In his Christ at Gethsemane one can see the revelatory passion that suffuses his Frederiksborg Castle Chapel series.
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