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"They're Doges-- And They're Playing Whist!"

Georges Dellatourisme

The very talented Dellatourisme had an unfortunate passion for practical jokes. One remembers his "Mary Magdalene with Dribble Glass" and his otherwise splendid "Lady Madonna" with the additional breasts and the substitution of a woodchuck for the infant Christ.

It was this irresistible flair for comedy which led to his untimely end. He had been retained by the Doge of Venice to paint an informal scene of his wife, the Biche, enjoying a game of cards with her royal friends. Unable to resist a visual pun, the painter replaced their heads with the heads of the household's canine companions, remarking to his drinking buddies that the leadership of Venice had been going to the Doges for quite some time. 

The Doge was so impressed at the unveiling of the painting that he immediately had Dellatourisme elevated to a position high atop the city gates, or at least his head. The rest of him was fed to the royal hounds since, as the Doge wittily remarked to his courtiers, it was evident that the painter had been going to the dogs for quite some time.

The painting itself, although suppressed by the ducal family, enjoyed a remarkable succès de scandale, reproduced in popular magazines and indispensable to this day — as an adornment in blue-collar recreation rooms.


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