Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast
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Albert Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast was caught in the crosshairs of two punting museum directors.

Didn’t think the art world got serious about a football match? Guess again.

In 2015, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks headed to the Super Bowl. The ballsy punters over at the Seattle Art Museum and New England’s Clark Institute of Art decided to make a bet: Albert Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast vs. Winslow Homer’s West Point, Prout’s Neck (1900). 

The betted items were landscape paintings depicting their respective coastlines, which would hang in the winning museum for three months, with the loser taking on all expenses. The two directors responsible for the bet are Kimerly Rorschach of the Seattle Museum and Michael Conforti of the Clark Art Institute. 

Albert Bierstadt was a painter of the American West. His landscapes were a relief during the age of American Industrialization. Having received art training in Germany, Bierstadt’s vision of an American landscape was influenced by the European style. Bierstadt took an unorthodox approach to painting landscapes. While Bierstadt did visit the Pacific West, he usually opted to sketch and take notes of the scene rather than set up and easel and pull out the paint tubes. 

Bierstadt painted the sound years after his visit to the West – in his New York studio. That’s right, he was in New York when he painted the scene of crashing waves and Native Americans pulling boats to the shore. Depicting Native Americans in his paintings was not unusual for the artist to do. The people portrayed in Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast were the Chinook people. Bierstadt revealed a usual day in their lives, where they pulled in their livelihood from small boats: baskets of salmon

This work Bierstadt seven years to paint. And it doesn’t always accurately depict the landscape. For some reason or another, parts of the Columbia River can be seen in Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast. Long after Bierstadt’s death, the inaccuracies of the painting caused it to be retitled The Storm.

Anyways, it didn’t matter if Bierstadt didn’t get every exact detail of the landscape correctly. At the time, the painting was considered to be accurate and people loved it. Some of his paintings were purchased by the United States government. They also inspired lawmakers to create National Parks. He is one of America’s first artist celebrities

What about that bet, you ask? Luckily for Conforti, the New England Patriots won 28-24.



  1. Hood, Gary Allen, After Lewis and Clark: The Forces of Change, 1806-1871, University of Oklahoma Press, 2006.
  2. Raab, Jennifer, “Albert Bierstaft: Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast,” Caareviews, November 16, 2012. Accessed October 29, 2019.
  3. Neuendorf, Henri, “Museums Bet major Paintings on Super Bowl Win,” Artnet News, January 30, 2015. Accessed October 3, 2019.
  4. The Associated Press, “Clark Art Institute Collects on its Super Bowl Bet With Seattle Museum,” The Artery, April 17, 2015. Accessed October 3, 2019.
  5. Wilke, Sabine, German Culture and the Modern Environmental Imagination: Narrating and Depicting Nature, Hotei Publishing, 2015.
  6. Ybarra, Michael J., “Manifest Destiny in Art,” The LA Times, August 21, 2011. Accessed October 26, 2019.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast

Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast is an 1870 oil landscape painting by the Hudson River School artist Albert Bierstadt. At the time of the work's completion, Bierstadt had not yet traveled to what was then Washington Territory. The work, commissioned by China trade merchant Abiel Abbot Low, was painted solely by written description of the Sound.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast.