Dogs Playing Poker

cassius marcellus coolidge

In 1903, he started working for Brown & Bigelow, which was the start of his Dogs Playing Poker series.

in context

Dogs Playing Poker is the collective name for a series of 18 paintings by the American artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, who often wrote his name as “Kash Koolidge”.

historical overview

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was not well-known, his art series Dogs Playing Poker have preceded his name and have become part of American pop culture.

the beginning

In 1903, the publishing company Brown & Bigelow, from Minnesota, United States, commissioned Coolidge to paint 16 of the Dogs Playing Poker painting series.


Various sources suggest that Coolidge could have been inspired by several Classical and Modern artists due to the similarities in his subject matter compared to that of other painters.

meaning of work

There are other meanings surrounding why Coolidge painted the Dog Playing Poker series, which also hints at his satirism.

pop culture

The Coolidge pups have become stars in 20th-century pop culture. They have appeared in television series, films, theatre, television ads, card games, music album covers, video games, as well as books.


Coolidge received considerable critique about his art and whether his series was in fact art or just “Kitsch”, which is an art style Dogs Playing Poker has been categorized in.

subject matter

In A Friend In Need, the Bulldog handing the fourth Ace card to his friend, indeed, he is “a friend in need” in this painting. This is also what the main narrative of the painting is about.

color & light

The colors Coolidge used in this painting are browns, reds, and mostly earthy colors that all give a cozy effect when we look at the composition. He created a sense of light that spreads over the poker table.


A Friend In Need is depicted from an eye-level perspective. Coolidge always seems to place us close to the dogs and the narrative, which makes the paintings more intimate and engaging.