Monday , December 4 2023
Our Renoir against your Caillebotte.

Museums Make Bet on Super Bowl XLV

You’d think they would be betting a case of Milwaukee’s beer against Pittsburgh’s Iron City. You’d think it would be their brats against our pirogues. Those are the kinds of bets public officials usually make to ensure their share of the publicity generated by high profile sporting events. And with the Super Bowl in their sights, there’s no question local mayors in Green Bay and Pittsburgh will be hosting news conferences to announce their wurst beer wagers.

They may find themselves a little late. Today comes news that their thunder has been stolen. And by whom? Two art museums, that’s by whom. And they’re not betting meat and drink, they’re putting up the real stuff, at least the real stuff as far as art museums are concerned. In a case of art for sport’s sake; they are putting up art.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh’s answer to the Louvre) has ventured a three-month loan of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s 1890 painting, “Bathers with Crab” (pictured above) against the Milwaukee Art Museum’s “Boating on the Yerres” by Gustave Caillebotte.


Now, as a loyal Steelers fan, I must protest. Leaving aside the question of the relative value of a Renoir versus a Caillebotte, although I must admit never having heard of Monsieur Caillebotte, suffice it to say they are both French Impressionists. And leaving aside the question of whether French paintings would be more appropriate for a wager on the winner of Top Chef or Chopped, they are clearly objects of value.

Still, there does appear to be a lack of balance between a picture of four nude bathing beauties and a couple of rowboats on a river. It is probably too late now, but it would have been a good idea to check out Milwaukee Art’s catalogue for something more equable.

On the other hand, since this is a football game we’re talking about, perhaps an artistic wager that had a closer connection to the sport would make more sense. One of the Pittsburgh theatre companies could agree to do a run of Lombardi if the Packers win, and a Milwaukee group could do the one-man play about Art Rooney, The Chief.

We could bet art photos of Brett Favre against pictures of Terry Bradshaw with hair. Even cheese and ketchup would make more sense. After all, didn’t Andy Warhol make a name for himself turning food into art?

Well, it may have been a sucker bet, but when you’re talking about the Steelers, here in Pittsburgh you have to ask who got suckered. I’ve got a “terrible towel” that says there will be a painting of boats on a river by a French Impressionist I’d never heard of before today hanging in the Carnegie Museum right next to the four nude beauties sometime this spring,

Anyone have a cheese head they’d like to risk?

Photo 1 credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo 2 credit:, via Google Images

About Jack Goodstein

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