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Badgers vs. Blue Devils

Tonight's NCAA championship game pits the Wisconsin Badgers against the Duke Blue Devils and we couldn't resist taking a look into our collection to see what a more artistic match-up between these teams would look like.


Perhaps surprisingly, there were several images of badgers in our collection, primarily from our Asian collection. In Japan, badgers are mischievous goblins who use all sorts of disguises to deceive people. And when they lead their prey astray, they love to delight in their misfortune. In this image, the badger is dressed up like a begging monk. Hijinks ensue.

Finding a blue devil was a bit more difficult. Because a blue devil isn't a devil of the traditional sort; rather, the name comes from "les Diables Bleus," a respected and daring French military unit from World War I. Because that's a bit too obscure even for the Art Institute's large collection, I sought out an image of a duke.


The man you see above is José Alvarez de Toledo, the Duke of Alba. The Spanish artist Goya painted several portraits of the duke, including this version completed a year before his death. The duke was known as a music lover and equestrian, but probably not a basketball fan since it was invented nearly a century after his death.

As a good midwestern girl, I've definitely got a favorite, but who are you rooting for?

Image credits:

Kawanabe Kyosai. Badger in the Guise of a Buddhist Monk, Meiji Period, c. 1780. Asian Departmental Sundry Trust Fund.

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. Portrait of José Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba and Marquess of Villafranca, c. 1795. Anonymous loan.