Cassius Marcellus Coolidge Oil on Canvas 1894
In 1903, the publishing company Brown & Bigelow commissioned a series of paintings from American artist Cassius Coolidge for cigar advertisements. Collectively, these are now generally referred to as “Dogs Playing Poker.” This isn’t a completely accurate description, however, as not all of the paintings were actually gambling. I particularly like one entitled “One to Tie, Two to Win,” which depicts a baseball game.
For this National Dog Day, I have chosen “A Bold Bluff.” It’s probably one of the most popular dog paintings of all time, so it seems fitting. “Poker Game” is also a popular selection from this series, but that depicts all St. Bernards. I prefer this one since it shows a more diverse group.
There’s probably nothing on this earth I enjoy more than anthropomorphic animals. Two of these dogs are even wearing glasses. I mean come on, what’s not to love?
I especially love the expression of the bulldog. He is really examining that St. Bernard, who seems to have quite the poker face. Although we can’t see all of his cards, he looks to have a pair of deuces and a nice stack of chips.
I’d also like to point out that in “Poker Game” an incredibly similar looking dog is also getting looks from his cohorts and seems to be winning there too. It appears he could be a hustler, but that’s just my interpretation.
Don’t believe me? Check out the painting “Waterloo” that Coolidge painted in 1906. It was originally entitled “Judge St. Bernard Wins on a Bluff” and shows this same group moments later. I love this dog on the right that looks like he was just shaking his head. Classic.
National Dog Day was founded in 2004 by Colleen Paige to raise awareness about dogs of all breeds awaiting adoption. Learn more at National Dog Day. If you’re able, go adopt a dog. If not, go pet someone else’s dog.