Monday, October 17, 2011

Cards and crèche

The "Dog Nativity Set" (2nd image) tops's list of 20 Tacky Religious Products Guaranteed to Anger God.* It can be yours for $35.99, much less than an oil painting of dogs playing poker (1st image) commands. Now considered kitsch, those anthropomorphized dogs were the work of Cassius Marcellus "Cash" Coolidge (1844-1934) and were used to advertise cigars. In 2005, 2 of Coolidge's 16 masterpieces, "A Bold Bluff" and "Waterloo," sold after intense bidding to an unidentified private collector from New York City for $590,000. "The (paintings') sequential narrative follows the same 'players' in the course of a hand of poker. In the first, our main character, the St. Bernard, holds a weak hand as the rest of the crew maintains their best poker faces. In the following scene, we see the St. Bernard raking in the large pot, much to the very obvious dismay of his fellow players." In the other paintings in the series, the dogs are depicted camping, testifying in court, attending a baseball game, and ballroom dancing. Coolidge's paintings have been copied an parodied many times over in pop culture and may have served as a small kernel of inspiration for American photographer William Wegman.

*Thanks for the link, Rick!

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