Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844-1934) was an American artist known primarily for his Dogs Playing Poker paintings and inventing the concept of life-size cutouts into which one's head is placed to create funny character photographs. While he had no formal training as an artist, his natural talent for drawing led him to create cartoons for his local newspaper during his twenties. In 1900, Coolidge contracted with the advertising firm of Brown & Bigelow of St. Paul, Minnesota to create sixteen oil paintings of dogs in various human poses, nine of which depict dogs playing poker. They quickly became a national success and finally earned him, at late mid-life, fame and fortune.
His anthropomorphised dog paintings have inspired not only American illustrator Arthur Sarnoff, who became famous for his Dogs Playing Pool series of paintings, but also hundreds of other imitators.
In 2005, two of his paintings, "A Bold Bluff" and "Waterloo", sold at auction for $590,400, a record for Coolidge, whose previous top sale was $74,000.
Arthur Sarnoff (1912 - 2000) was an American artist who studied at the Industrial School and the Grand Central School of Art in New York City. He was a student of John Clymer and Andrew Wyeth. Sarnoff was a member of the Society of Illustrators and exhibited widely including at the National Academy of Design. While he did extensive commercial work for weekly magazines and his art appeared in a variety of advertising campaigns, he became equally known for his pool playing, card playing, and golfing dogs. Although his best known work is a painting of dogs playing pocket billiards entitled "Jack the Ripper", another called "The Hustler" was the best-selling print of the 1950s.
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