Dogs Playing Poker
Dogs Playing Poker refers collectively to a series of sixteen oil paintings by C. M. Coolidge, commissioned in 1903 by Brown & Bigelow to advertise cigars. All the paintings in the series feature anthropomorphized dogs, but the nine in which dogs are seated around a card table are the most reproduced.
The titles in the "Dogs Playing Poker" series proper are:
- A Bold Bluff (originally titled Judge St. Bernard Stands Pat on Nothing)
- A Friend in Need
- His Station and Four Aces
- Pinched with Four Aces
- Poker Sympathy
- Post Mortem
- Sitting up with a Sick Friend
- Stranger in Camp
- Waterloo (originally titled Judge St. Bernard Wins on a Bluff)
- Ten Miles to a Garage
- Riding the Goat
- New Year's Eve in Dogville
- One to Tie Two to Win
- Breach of Promise Suit
- The Reunion
- A Bachelor's Dog
These were followed in 1910 by a similar painting, Looks Like Four of a Kind. Some of the compositions in the series are modeled on paintings of human card-players by such artists as Caravaggio, Georges de La Tour, and Paul Cézanne.
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||This section possibly contains original research. (January 2015)|
The paintings are popular because they are funny and therefore amusing, an inherently pleasure-causing quality. Exactly why they are funny is not fully determinable, but a likely reason is that they are ridiculous, a quality closely associated with humor according to various theories of humor (incongruity theory, computational-neural theory, ontic-epistemic theory, and benign violation theory, for instance).
There is a subtle humorous quality and emotional depth to the paintings based on the following:
- Dogs have extremely complex emotions and try to “act” cool/excited/sad/upset, which is betrayed by their inability to control certain other physical cues that “give away their hand” so to speak. For example, if a dog was playing poker and got a good hand, he’d put on "a poker face" like nothing happened, but then you’d see it salivating, ears perking or tail wagging uncontrollably.
- Only dog owners or those with significant experience with canines can really understand canine behavior and the range and complexity of emotions they display, which gives the series a more personal connection and adds an emotional layer of depth.
- Subtle humor also exists in the fact that dogs do not have opposable thumbs, which prevents them from actually being able to play poker.
- "Dogs Playing Poker". Ooo Woo – Complete Dog Resource. 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2006.[unreliable source?]
- McManus, James. "Play It Close to the Muzzle and Paws on the Table," New York Times (December 3, 2005).
- "A New York auction offers artistic treats for dog lovers," San Jose Mercury News (Feb 11, 2005).
- "'Dogs Playing Poker' sell for $590K". Money.com (CNN). February 16, 2005. Retrieved September 11, 2006.
- Harris, Maria Ochoa. "It's A Dog's World, According to Coolidge," A Friendly Game of Poker" (Chicago Review Press, 2003).