Monday, September 18, 2006

Dogs Playing Poker

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was born on this day in 1844 in Jefferson, New York.

Coolidge, an itinerant cartoonist and sign-painter, is remembered almost solely for his iconic Dogs Playing Poker series of paintings (including A Friend in Need, based on Georges de La Tour's human-populated The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds), created for the St. Paul, Minnesota advertising firm Brown & Bigelow in 1903. Long-maligned as the ultimate in low-brow art, two of Coolidge's Dogs Playing Poker paintings were auctioned in 2005 for $590,400.

He married late and spent his last years being supported by his young wife who worked as a Manhattan legal secretary. He is also said to have pioneered the use of life-sized boardwalk cutouts (into which one could place one's own head, thereby allowing one to be photographed as the character depicted in the cutout), and wrote an opera about a plague of mosquitoes in New Jersey.

He died on January 13, 1934 in Staten Island, New York.

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Anonymous Tom Thompson said...

Excellent piece on a long underappreciated artist. It's about time he got the recognition he is due. Wait until I show my wife this.

4:55 PM  

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