Everyone knows about the famous group of paintings featuring dogs playing poker, but do you know who painted them? The legendary painting series Dogs Playing Poker was the vision of Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, known to some as the “Michelangelo of the dog world”.
Although some might say that Coolidge’s style isn’t “serious” enough, his masterpieces are now some of the most iconic examples of quintessential American artwork.
Never let anyone tell you that you’re too old to gain success, fame, or money. Coolidge was almost 60 years old when he was commissioned in 1903 by the advertising firm called Brown & Bigelow to make 16 paintings (over the course of several years), nine of which ended up being poker-themed.
The most famous of the set is the painting titled Friend In Need where a Bulldog is seen passing an Ace of clubs with his paw during a hand of poker. It is clear that he is “helping” his friend out because by giving it away his pal will now have 4 Aces. (Is it cheating if you don’t get caught?)
For those of you interested in artwork (or are obsessed with “Antiques Roadshow”), you may be curious about what Coolidge’s paintings are worth. In 2005, A Bold Bluff and Waterloo were up for auction and the estimate was that these paintings were expected to fetch between $30,000 and $50,000. Instead, the set surprisingly sold for almost $600,000 at Doyle Auctions on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The 2005 auction set a new record for Coolidge’s paintings, which had previously been $74,000 for a posthumous sale of his work.
We may never know for sure why Cassius Marcellus Coolidge chose dogs in these very human-like scenarios. Anyone who owns a dog knows they may not be able to make a “poker face”, but if having a dog gives you a “full house”, then you know you’ve hit the “jackpot.” 😉
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