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 are the most reproduced.
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
- Poker Sympathy
- Post Mortem
- 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
- The Reunion
- 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.
A website dedicated to the paintings of dogs playing poker, and their artist, Cassius Coolidge. http://www.dogsplayingpoker.org/