Dogs Playing Poker: The Story Behind the Iconic Painting Series

“Dogs Playing Poker” refers to a series of paintings created by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, an American artist. These paintings, often regarded with a mix of amusement and admiration, have become a part of popular culture, symbolizing a whimsical and anthropomorphic view of man’s best friend.

The Origins of Dogs Playing Poker

The “Dogs Playing Poker” series was commissioned in 1903 by Brown & Bigelow, a company that specialized in promotional calendars. Coolidge was hired to create these paintings for advertising purposes, particularly for cigars. The paintings depict dogs engaging in human activities, most notably playing poker, which instantly struck a chord with the American public.

The Significance of the Series

The “Dogs Playing Poker” series is more than just an amusing depiction of dogs. It’s a reflection of American kitsch culture in the early 20th century. The anthropomorphic portrayal of the dogs was intended to be humorous and lighthearted, and it gained popularity for its quirky and eccentric style.

The Artistic Style

Cultural Impact

Over the years, “Dogs Playing Poker” has transcended its original advertising purpose, becoming an iconic piece of American art. It has been referenced in various forms of media, including television shows, movies, and advertisements, cementing its place in American pop culture. The paintings have also sparked discussions among art critics, with some dismissing them as mere commercial art, while others praise their unique style and cultural significance.

Collectability and Legacy

Today, the “Dogs Playing Poker” paintings are highly collectible. They are sought after by art collectors and enthusiasts, often fetching high prices at auctions. The series has also inspired a wide range of merchandise, including posters, t-shirts, and other memorabilia.


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