Dog Paintings Raise Money for California College

"Dogs Playing Poker” heir bequests half-million dollars to University of California, San Diego.

“Dogs Playing Poker,” the kitchy series of paintings that have appeared on everything from wall posters to coffee mugs, is behind a recent bequest of half a million dollars to the University of California, San Diego.

Marcella B. Coolidge, the daughter of “Dogs Playing Poker” artist C.M. Coolidge, left the money to the college’s extension program in her will. Coolidge had sold several of her father’s paintings, which humorously depict dogs in human-like situations, before her death at age 97 last year.

Two of Coolidge’s most famous paintings, “A Bold Bluff” and “Waterloo,” sold for $590,400 to a private collector in 2005, setting a world record for the artist. Last year, “Only a Pair of Deuces,” depicting a group of dogs around a poker table, sold for $193,000, while “A Breach of Promise Suit,” illustrating a canine court proceeding set in a barn, sold for $32,200.

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was born in upstate New York in 1844. An accomplished cartoonist, Coolidge is also credited with creating the life-size cartoon cutout, into which people place their heads for photographs. He died in 1934.

Stanley Faer, president of The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UC San Diego, says the group’s executive committee and council plan to use the funds to broaden membership and expand program activities of the learning-in-retirement program.

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