Above is the statue of Christ that the great NeoClassical Sculptor Berthel Thorvaldsen carved for the Church of Our Lady (now the Lutheran Cathedral) in his native Copenhagen. After having been destroyed by British shelling in 1807, the church was rebuilt in the NeoClassical style. Thorvaldsen was commissioned to make a series of marble sculptures for the church of which this was the centerpiece. He began work on the sculptures in his workshop in Rome in 1820, and installed them himself in 1838 as part of his triumphant return to Copenhagen (though not well known in the English speaking world, Thorvaldsen remains famous on the European continent).
Thorvaldsen was famous for bringing something of the austerity of newly discovered early Greek sculpture to his figures (he "restored" the sculptures from the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina when they were acquired by the King of Bavaria). And it's that Greek austerity that's responsible for both the success and the ambiguity of what is probably the finest example of the new type of Establishment Christ emerging out of the NeoClassical movement. The larger than life figure looms over the interior of the church. It is grand and mysterious, with an almost theatrical sense of presence.
It is also an ambiguous figure. The inscription below says in Danish "Come to Me" and the gesture is indeed welcoming. But that welcome is checked by the beautifully carved, and cooly distant face. It is a grand figure distilling the original sources of the traditional image of Christ that appears fully formed about the 6th century out of classical images of Apollo and Jupiter.
Thorvaldsen himself was aware of the ambiguity of this image.
I know that when I am dead, they will say that my Christian figures are Greeks -- and rightly, for without the Greek school it is impossible to work in a correct and intelligible way. And my Greek figures will be said to be Christians -- again correctly for I have never been able to allow myself to work with thoughts other than those which constitute my aspirations. Without these priniciples I would never have been able to create my Apostles and my Christ.
Out of this combination of sincere piety and equally sincere classicism emerges the Establishment Christ image. We are not quite to the popular modern conventional "Jesus Meek and Mild," but we are on our way. This is a supreme example of that grand, mysterious, and remote figure favored by the emerging state churches of the 19th century (including the Roman Catholic). Christ the God-man safely mythologized and locked away in marble and bronze, dragooned into the service of the State as the spiritual foundation of the established order. Though images like this were frequently the creations of sincere piety, it is hard not to recall Napoleon's cynical remark that nothing keeps the poor in line like the threat of eternal damnation.
This statue is very popular with the Mormons for reasons that are not clear to me. A duplicate of it appears in the Temple visitor's center in Salt Lake City.