Artist’s Fame Is Fleeting, but Dog Poker Is Forever

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was an entrepreneurial whirlwind with a painter’s eye who seemed born to his nickname, Cash. After leaving the family farm here in the early 1860’s, he bounced around the northeastern United States and Europe, trying his hand at myriad trades: he ran a drug store, founded a bank, painted street signs, drew cartoons, taught art.

His creative genius was evident, but scattershot. He wrote a comic opera about a mosquito epidemic in New Jersey. He designed comic cut-outs — “Fat Man in a Bathing Suit,” for example — for people to stand behind and smile for the camera. And, at some point, he hit upon the idea that would define how he is vaguely remembered today: painting everyday scenes in which dogs behave like human beings.

Having used eBay as a research tool to ID this fellow in order to procure one of his finer prints as a wedding present, I couldn’t be happier to see this story in the NYT.