Cincinnati Museum to Loan Robert Henri Painting to LA’s Huntington Library After Losing Super Bowl Friendly Bet

There was a lot at stake last night at Super Bowl LVI, and not just for the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.

The Huntington California Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens have teamed up with the Cincinnati Art Museum for a friendly bet, betting each of their Robert Henri paintings to the other museum for a loan.

Cincinnati Serious Patience (1915) is a portrait of a young girl in blue, the official color of the Rams, while the subject of Huntington’s Irish girl (1927) has a reddish-orange border on his white robe, reminiscent of the Bengals’ tiger-striped logo. Now that the Rams are reigning victorious, beating the Bengals 23-20, the paints will be reunited at the Huntington sometime later this year.

Serious Patience been waiting a long time to see her friend. After the Bengals take care of business on the football field on Sunday, she is invited to Cincinnati for a Dey play,” Cincinnati Art Museum director Cameron Kitchin wrote in a statement before the game (referring to singing unofficial Bengal, “who dey”).

When the Bengals scored, the museum announced “Touchdown Bengals!” on Facebook, sharing a photo of Jim Dine’s 12-foot-tall bronze sculpture of a triumphant-looking PInocchio that stands on the museum’s lawn.

It was the Huntington, of course, who had the last word. “Rams for Victory!” the museum wrote on Twittersharing an image of Irish girl with a Rams hat and the Lombardi Trophy. “Good game @cincyartmuseum – looking forward to hosting Serious Patience at the Huntington soon.

Henri is an intriguing figure in the history of art in the United States. Cincinnati native Robert Henry Cozad was forced to change his name after his father fatally shot another man during a cattle dispute in Nebraska. The artist studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and the Académie Julian in Paris, but sought to move beyond the then dominant Impressionist style of painting. Henri revolted against American academic art, helping to found what became known as the Ashcan School of American art.

The Henri bet, reported for the first time by the Cincinnati Business Mail, marks the first time in four years that museums have gotten in on the Super Bowl action. In 2018, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston sent Mrs. James Warren (Mercy Otis), California. 1763, by John Singleton Copley at the Philadelphia Museum of Art after the Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41-33.

The museum’s first bet on the Super Bowl was placed in 2010, at the request of art journalist Tyler Green. After Green suggested the idea on his blog, Max Anderson, director of the Indianapolis Art Museum, pushed New Orleans Art Museum director John Bullard to bet The Fifth Plague of Egypt by JMW Turner versus New Orleans’s Ideal view of Tivoli by Claude Lorraine. (The New Orleans Saints won 31-17.)

In the years that followed, the Denver Art Museum loaned Frederic Remington’s bronze sculpture to the Seattle Art Museum The bronchos hunter when the Seahawks beat the Broncos in 2014. The following year, when Seattle lost to the Patriots, he sent Albert Bierstadt Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast (1870) at the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

In 2017, MFA Boston and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta refused to bet on any art, but engaged in meme-based trash talk in the Twitter-based #MuseumBowl in honor of the Game.

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