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. 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."
The titles in the "Dogs Playing Poker" series proper are:
A Bold Bluff (originally titled Judge St. Bernard Stands Pat on Nothing)
A Friend in Need
His Station and Four Aces
Pinched with Four Aces
Sitting up with a Sick Friend
Stranger in Camp
Waterloo (originally titled Judge St. Bernard Wins on a Bluff)
Ten Miles to a Garage
Riding the Goat
New Year's Eve in Dogville
One to Tie Two to Win
Breach of Promise Suit
A Bachelor's Dog
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.
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. 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. The previous top price for a Coolidge was $74,000.
^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.