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Friday, 31 January, 2003

Dogs Playing Poker
(with comments)

You've probably seen this famous dog painting dozens of times. It's usually associated with "low class" art. For example, it hung in the living room of the family in the Rosanne TV show. In addition, the image is featured on dozens of items such as posters, ties, coffee mugs, playing cards, needlepoint kits, and even a computer game.

The painting shown here is called "A Friend in Need," and the artist is Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844-1934). I didn't realize it, but this is just one in a series of paintings that feature dogs performing various human activities. You can view his other paintings here.

Last year, the New York Times published an article about Coolidge:

His creative genius was evident, but scattershot. He wrote a comic opera about a mosquito epidemic in New Jersey. He designed comic cut-outs - "Fat Man in a Bathing Suit," for example - for people to stand behind and smile for the camera. And, at some point, he hit upon the idea that would define how he is vaguely remembered today: painting everyday scenes in which dogs behave like human beings.


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