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Art / Dogs Playing Poker

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"A Friend in Need", 1903

Dogs Playing Poker refers collectively to a series of oil paintings created by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. All eighteen paintings in the overall series feature anthropomorphized dogs, but the eleventh one, in which dogs are seated around a card table, has become well-known in the United States as an example of kitsch art in home decoration.

To see the eighteen paintings, look at the Image Links page.

For Art Imitates Art examples, see Canines Gambling in a Card Game.

Dogs Playing Poker provides examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Several paintings feature the civilized dogs with collars and nothing more. In "Sitting up with a Sick Friend", two of them are wearing hats.
  • Character Action Title: Dogs (the characters) Playing (the action) Poker.
  • Civilized Animal: As the name implies, the dogs are playing poker, with many of the dogs dressed in the fashion of the era. Not Beast Men, but actual dogs. One wonders how they can hold the cards without thumbs.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The portfolio is called "Dogs Playing Poker" and all of the paintings are about dogs playing poker. Or, at least, gambling and socializing in a manner where you could technically call it "playing poker".
  • Fixing the Game: In "A Friend in Need", one of the dogs is using its rear paw to discretely pass an ace of clubs to his/her friend during a game of poker.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: In "His Station and Four Aces", all of the dogs are elegantly clothed in two-piece suits and hats. One of the smaller dogs has shoes on and, since we can't see the other dogs' rear paws, it's implied they so do.
  • Hollywood Board Games: The reason why people find these artworks kitsch, it's because of the juxtaposition between something so mundane as a Tabletop Game like poker and the weirdness of it being dogs playing it.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: The portfolio's name indicates that all of the paintings are about dogs who are, if not outright playing poker, doing something related to it.
  • What Were They Selling Again?: All but two of the paintings (the first and last) were commissioned to sell cigars, a fact that most people don't know.