That 'Dogs Playing Poker' Abomination Sold for More Money Than You'll Ever See at Once


Today in news that’ll send you into existential panic: A painting of dogs playing poker sold for more money than most of us will ever see at one time.

Here’s a description of Cassius Marcellus Coolidge’s famous painting from Sotheby’s, which just sold the thing for $658,000.

It was after a trip to Europe in 1873 that he turned up in Rochester, New York, as the portraitist of dogs whose life-style mirrored the successful middle-class humans of his time. Coolidge’s first customers were cigar companies, who printed copies of his paintings for giveaways. His fortunes rose when he signed a contract with the printers Brown & Bigelow, who turned out hundreds of thousands of copies of his dog-genre subjects as advertising posters, calendars, and prints.
“Coolidge’s poker-faced style is still engaging today. His dogs fit with amazing ease into such human male phenomena as the all-night card game, the commuter train, and the ball park. His details of expression, clothing, and furniture are precise. Uncannily, the earnest animals resemble people we all know, causing distinctions of race, breed, and color to vanish and evoking the sentiment on an old Maryland gravestone: MAJOR Born a Dog Died a Gentleman” (“A Man’s Life,” American Heritage, February 1973, p. 56).

Look, I recognize that this painting is famous, but come on. It’s on everything already. I believe there’s even a Looney Tunes version, which I only know because it was emblazoned on the back of the denim jacket my internship supervisor at the county jail wore on casual Fridays.

GQ suggests (humorously) that the painting should have gone for at least twice the price, considering the bragging rights one would have of showing off the original of all those posters from bars and dorm rooms. But I disagree. Nothing I can think of would depress me more than finding out that someone I knew had enough money to buy a house and chose instead to spend it on a dumbass picture of some dumbass dogs.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Image of this monstrosity that sold for more than scalped Madonna tickets via Sotheby’s

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