This is the first of a series of pokerdog images I am creating exclusively for the AFA Gallery in Las Vegas. The individual images will be combined into a large-scale composition once all of them are complete. The first series of “dogs Paying Poker was painted by C. M. Coolidge, commissioned in 1903 by Brown & Bigelow to advertise cigars. The nine in which dogs are seated around a card table have become derisively well known in the United States as examples of mainly working-class taste in home decoration.
Critic Annette Ferrara describes Dogs Playing Poker as “indelibly burned into … the American collective-schlock subconscious … through incessant reproduction on all manner of pop ephemera. On February 15, 2005, however, the originals of A Bold Bluff and Waterloo were auctioned as a pair to an undisclosed buyer for US $590,400. (Not a bad price for schlock).
Some of the compositions in the series are modeled on earlier famous paintings of human card-players by such artists as Caravaggio, Georges de La Tour, and Paul Cézanne. For my own composition, I am putting the dogs in the sort of opulent period costumes that would have been popular in the time periods of the original masterpieces.