Why This Painting By Cassius Marcellus Coolidge Remains An Icon

Some paintings live on forever in the annals of time.  The Dogs Playing Poker is a unique painting which is just that. Made by Cassius Coolidge in 1894. It has gained popularity for more than a century. Marcellus was born on September 18, 1844, in Antwerp, New York. His parents were Quaker farmers who raised him in Philadelphia, New York. Coolidge trained as an artist. He signed his paintings as Kash or Kash Coolidge. Cassius left his family in 1860 and had several careers. For instance, the American artist worked as a sign painter and pharmacist from 1868 to 1872.

He established a newspaper and bank before relocating to Rochester. Cassius developed his painting career in his early twenties. He created cartoons for a newspaper agency. The skilled artist created novelty photographs featuring a caricatured
body between canvas sticks. The paintings used carnivals and photo stand-ins. Different schools were wanted to hire Coolidge. He easily sketched elephants roaming and later drew a beautiful painting. Some time, Coolidge drew photos of a tiger stalking its prey.

Dogs Playing Poker Series

Poker Game was Coolidge’s first poker dogs picture. He drew it in 1894. Some of its composition resembles paintings that Paul Cezanne and Georges de La Tour made in the past. They depicted a poker game with human characters. Some people compared the A Friend in Need artistry with Sir Edwin Landseer’s Laying Down the Law painting. He made it in 1840. Edwin’s painting has a solemn tone while Coolidge’s art has a comical tone. They highlight key features of a typical online casino poker game.

Brown and Bigelow commissioned Coolidge in 1903. The series includes dogs on a road trip, a soccer game, and a jester performance. Brown and Bigelow used the artworks to promote cigars and promotional calendars. Millions of American citizens hanged the calendars in their homes.

The Series Narrative

Dogs Playing Poker is a funny and intriguing series with a dramatic narrative. It comprises of several paintings. Saint Bernard wagered on two deuces in the 1903 A Bold Bluff. His opponents were in a dilemma on whether he was serious. Other dogs try to bit Bernard hand in the Waterloo. The saint inserts his hand in a huge pot. The A Bold Bluff and Waterloo paintings were auctioned in Doyle New York. It was believed that they would sell at $50,000.

Even so, one bidder paid $590,400 for the two paintings. It was the highest sale that Coolidge arts made. A Friend in Need is the most prominent Coolidge painting. It derives its title from a bulldog which passes an ace to a partner.

Many people don’t know why Coolidge drew the Dogs Playing Poker paintings. It is a series of 18 images. The mystery remains.