Denver museum makes good on Super Bowl bet

DENVER— Peyton Manning wasn’t there for the handoff.

But Denver Art Museum staffer Amy Barrett wore a No. 18 T-shirt Wednesday as she helped crate up a Frederic Remington bronze known as “The Broncho Buster”— the spelling is an outdated form for the horse— after the museum lost a Super Bowl bet with its counterpart in Seattle.

Thomas Smith, director of the Denver Art Museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art, said he got a call from a Seattle Art Museum curator to discuss plans for displaying the Remington almost as soon as the Feb. 2 Super Bowl was over. The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8, and the Remington will go to Seattle for three months.

“As I watched the game, I said, ‘Oh, there goes our Broncho Buster for a few months,’” Smith said.

He called the piece “the most iconic sculpture” in American Western art history. Remington cast 150 versions after creating the prototype in 1895. Smith said the piece going to Seattle was among the first copies, made in the early 1900s using what was then a new lost-wax casting technique.

Remington packed energy and texture into the piece, which fit into a crate not much bigger than a hotel room refrigerator. The lost-wax technique allowed him to bring out details, from individual hairs in the horse’s tail to the muscles in the rider’s hand as it grips the mane. Remington customized his copies, varying the lengths of the rider’s whip, for example, or adding wooly chaps on some versions.

Barrett, whose title is preparator, helped make braces wrapped in nonabrasive cloth to hold the piece for its journey of 18-20 hours overland to Seattle. As anyone who has watched Antiques Roadshow knows, she said, the century-old patina on the piece must be protected.

Stickers with Denver Bronco logos were plastered onto the crate as it was sealed in a workroom at the museum. For security reasons, museum officials would not say exactly when the sculpture will start its trip.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock also lost a Super Bowl bet. His office says it shipped green chile off to Seattle shortly after the game and will be auctioning off items such as handmade skis to raise money for the Seattle-based Lifelong AIDS Alliance nonprofit group.

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