It’s one of the most famous paintings ever created, and it hangs in living rooms and game rooms all around the world.
Cassius M. Coolidge’s “A Friend In Need” is a terrific example of turn of the century art with timeless appeal. Looking at the painting today, it’s difficult to determine that it was actually painted over 100 years ago! It looks like it could easily depict a scene from the 1950’s or 60’s. Only the playing cards themselves reveal the era.
Commissioned by Brown and Bigelow to do the series in 1903, Coolidge actually finished 16 “dog” paintings. Nine of them depict dogs playing cards and the others show the dogs playing pool. “Dogs Playing Poker” is the common name for the series, but that isn’t actually the title for any of the nine paintings about playing cards.
“A Friend In Need” (pictured above) is the most famous of the “Dogs Playing Poker” series, and it shows a bulldog helping his partner by passing an Ace of Clubs under the table. That Ace will give his partner a virtual lock hand of four Aces. Side note: that bulldog has remarkable dexterity in his paws!
Although other paintings in the series have sold for over a half-million dollars, no one knows where the original “A Friend In Need” is, or if it still exists. For now, it remains a mystery.