Illustration: Boris O’Klein’s Dirty Dogs of Paris

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Today’s images are a bit of a mystery. Even though untold numbers of these prints have sold over the years, very little is known about the artist who created them. The compositions are all very long and don’t fit the computer screen well, so make sure you click on the images and look at the full size scans.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

If you had visited Paris on a vacation anytime during the 1930s to the 1950s, odds are you would have brought back one of these prints as a souvenir. My Uncle who was a Rear Admiral in the Navy had a pair of these hanging in his bathroom and as a child I was fascinated by them. Called "The Dirty Dogs of Paris", this series of etchings was created by an artist who went by the multi-ethnic name "Boris O’Klein". His real name was Arthur Klein and he was born in Moscow, Russia in 1893.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Boris O'Klein Dogs

O’Klein emigrated to France as a boy and became a successful magazine illustrator in Paris during the 1930s. The story goes that he spent hours watching the stray dogs in the streets outside his studio and realized that their personalities weren’t all that different from people. He was inspired to create a few cartoons of the dogs doing what dogs do… peeing on trees, chasing female dogs and sniffing each others’ butts.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Boris O'Klein Dogs

The dog cartoons were just a lark. His real passion was painting hunting and wilderness scenes. But he realized the money making potential of the Dirty Dogs, and supplied a series of etchings to gift shops and galleries all over Paris. They became hugely popular and overshadowed all of his other work. Eventually, they even overshadowed the artist who created them.

Boris O'Klein Dogs

Boris O'Klein Dogs

I found these prints at eBay. They appear to be quite common. There are at least four or five different signatures on them, depending on the vintage, so it’s evident that they were cranked out in quantity by a third party. They appear to be still in production, although the recent prints are not nearly as good looking as the older ones.

Boris O’Klein passed away in 1985. I wish I could tell you more about him, but that’s all I know. If anyone reading has any info, please share it in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

IllustrationIllustration

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit spotlighting Illustration.

14 Responses to “Illustration: Boris O’Klein’s Dirty Dogs of Paris”

  1. susana says:

    Hello, I´ve found this web page about O´Neil, http://www.o-klein.com, By Eric Klein, Grand son and successor of the artist.

    Eric Klein

    2 rue de noncerve

    91580 Villeneuve sur Auvers

    FRANCE

    Tel: 01.60.80.51.04 — +33 160 805 104

    E-mail: kleingravures@wanadoo.fr

  2. For many years i have a print off 9 dogs waiting for a dog toilet,it is

    framed with glass and I have also a other one but i don’t know were he is!!

    It is defently from him but who makes that in a file(all the dogs??) iff

    anybody knows somthing about these pictures let me know,thank you very much. johannes de Haas,holland Santpoort-noord. (city)

  3. Bruce T. says:

    I have a framed print of the ICI one hanging in my bathroom. I found the print at a flea market some years ago. My uncle used to have *two* (different!) of these prints in his WC. Thanks for the info.

  4. John Castro says:

    Louche but fun, kind of. I suspect George Studdy never dreamed of anything like this for “Bonzo.” Nor Darby Conley in “Get Fuzzy.” Mayyyybe cartooning doesn’t really need a lot of blue material.

  5. Colin Beruldsen says:

    I have, what I think is a signed print of “Like our Masters” which consists of 7 dogs peeing against the wall.This also could be an original as the signing is in pencil and I would think if it were a copy it would be numbered. Does anyone know about this artwork? It has in the top right hand corner the words “eue forte originale”I am in Australia and brought this with a group of chinese paintings at an auction. I would love to know more about this if possible.

    Colin

    • That is probably one of the etchings, Colin. The lines are printed and the colors are applied by hand. Large quantities of these have been produced over the years. I’m not sure which if any of the signatures on the prints is actually Klein’s.

  6. Martin W says:

    All, there is finally a biography of Boris Klein, his son Daniel and his son Eric. The original plates were produced by Boris with new updated plates by his son Daniel. Eric is now re-producing them and making them readily available to dealers, There is a distinct difference between the works of Boris and his son daniel. You may purchase a copy of an invoice for resale of the Daniel etchings to a local dutch art gallery for $1.00 + postage. the biography is available from a publisher in France.

  7. Donna B says:

    Hi All and Happy New Year from North Carolina, USA.

    I have two framed etched prints from Boris O’Klein. One is “The Trickster!” which is written in pencil script on the lower left corner. No signature that I can see in the lower right corner. I’m afraid to remove from the frame.

    The second print is “Sans Interdit” which is signed in pencil on lower right corner.

    They both have Copyright by Ducher & Mathieu 35, Avenus dol’ Opera, Paris on them.

    Could these be originals?

    On the back of the frame is “Adolf Gunther, Salzburg, Gstatteng.37, Femruf 27-9-14.

    I think this is the person that may have framed them for someone.

    My Dad purchased the prints from a lady near Elizabeth City, NC, then gave them to me. I’ve heard she has a third that she will not part with.

  8. Jim Wilson says:

    On the origionals the signature is illegable. the restrikes also have signatures in pencil, but they are easy to read

  9. Jason H says:

    It is my understanding that the “originals” will have the title or description in pencil in the lower left and the signature in pencil in the lower right. You cannot make out the name O’Klein by looking at the signature. The “originals will be copyrighted by O’Klein himself, while later editions will be copyrighted by others.

  10. I have an original of Liberte’ Liberte’ Cherie! done by Arthur Klein can anyone tell me what it is worth?

    The best source for values is the completed auctions at eBay. -Steve

  11. Leta-Rae Arthy says:

    Very interesting to read about this artist & his work. I purchased 4 of these illustrations (framed) earlier this year for $80AU because I thought they were interesting. Mine are pencil drawings with some colour highlights – title bottom left – signature bottom right which is difficult to decipher (if you didn’t know the artist). I was just in Sydney and saw 3 prints (colour tinted which sellers stated were originals) on sale for $180AU each reduced from $289AU so I photograped them to compare. On these prints the signature was very clear. Googling the name I came across this site. My drawings are stamped on the back with the details of a Scottish framer.

  12. Denise Dorland says:

    I would like to purchase a print of “Like Our Masters.” I saw one on Ebay for $44.00. Is this what I can expect to pay? Is there any place else to purchase them besides eBay or from a dealer?

  13. Jason says:

    I love this classical illustrations

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