Dogs Playing Poker

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His Station and Four Aces by C. M. Coolidge, 1903.

Dogs Playing Poker refers collectively to a series of sixteen oil paintings by C. M. Coolidge, commissioned in 1903 by Brown & Bigelow to advertise cigars.[1] All the paintings in the series feature anthropomorphized dogs, but the nine in which dogs are seated around a card table have become derisively well known in the United States as examples of mainly working-class taste in home decoration. Critic Annette Ferrara describes Dogs Playing Poker as "indelibly burned into ... the American collective-schlock subconscious ... through incessant reproduction on all manner of pop ephemera."[2]

Coolidge paintings[edit]

Waterloo, c. 1906

The titles in the "Dogs Playing Poker" series proper are:

These were followed in 1910 by a similar painting, Looks Like Four of a Kind. Some of the compositions in the series are modeled on paintings of human card-players by such artists as Caravaggio, Georges de La Tour, and Paul Cézanne.[3]

The St. Bernard in the paintings Waterloo and A Bold Bluff was owned by the Fifth Avenue florist Theodore Lang, who counted Coolidge among his friends. The dog's name was Captain.[4] On February 15, 2005, the originals of A Bold Bluff and Waterloo were auctioned as a pair to an undisclosed buyer for US $590,400.[5] The previous top price for a Coolidge was $74,000.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dogs Playing Poker". Ooo Woo – Complete Dog Resource. 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2006. [unreliable source?]
  2. ^ Ferrara, Annette (April 2008). "Lucky Dog!". Ten by Ten Magazine. Chicago: Tenfold Media. Archived from the original on March 27, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2006.  Note: The "collective-schlock" material is transposed from the last paragraph to replace a pronoun in this quote from the first paragaph.
  3. ^ a b c McManus, James. "Play It Close to the Muzzle and Paws on the Table," New York Times (December 3, 2005).
  4. ^ Personal communication, Viola Etta Lang, daughter of Theodore Lang, 1991.
  5. ^ "A New York auction offers artistic treats for dog lovers," San Jose Mercury News (Feb 11, 2005).
  6. ^ "'Dogs Playing Poker' sell for $590K". (CNN). February 16, 2005. Retrieved September 11, 2006. 


External links[edit]