Briton Rivière RA (London 14 August 1840 – 20 April 1920 London) was a British artist of Huguenot descent. He exhibited a variety of paintings at the Royal Academy, but devoted much of his life to animal paintings.
His father, William Rivière (1806–1876), was for some years drawing-master at Cheltenham College, and then an art teacher at the University of Oxford. He was educated at Cheltenham College and Oxford, where he took his degree in 1867. For his art training he was indebted almost entirely to his father. His paternal uncle Henry Parsons Rivière (1811–1888) was also a noted watercolourist, exhibiting works at the Royal Watercolour Society, London and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.
His first pictures appeared at the British Institution, and in 1857 he exhibited three works at the Royal Academy, but it was not until 1863 that he became a regular contributor to the Academy exhibitions. In that year he was represented by The eve of the Spanish Armada, and in 1864 by a Romeo and Juliet. However, subjects of this kind did not attract him long, for in 1865 he began, with Sleeping Deerhound, a series of paintings of animal-subjects which occupied much of the rest of his life. In a lengthy interview in Chums Boys Annual, entitled "How I paint animals", Rivière explained some of the practicalities of painting both tame and wild animals:
"I have always been a great lover of dogs but I have worked at them so much that I've grown tired of having them about me. However, you can never paint a dog unless you are fond of it. I never work from a dog without the assistance of a man who is well acquainted with animals..... Collies, I think, are the most restless dogs....greyhounds are also very restless, and so are fox terriers..... The only way to paint wild animals is to gradually accumulate a large number of studies and a great knowledge of the animal itself, before you can paint its picture...... I paint from dead animals as well as from live ones. I have had the body of a fine lioness in my studio..... I have done a great deal of work in the dissecting rooms at the Zoological Gardens from time to time."
- Thomas Jenkins (1856; Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum)
- Strayed from the flock (1867)
- The empty chair (1869)
- Expectation (1871)
- His only friend (1871; Manchester Art Gallery)
- Circe and the friends of Ulysses (1871)
- Pigs in a vineyard (1871; watercolour)
- Daniel (1872; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)
- Warranted quiet to ride or drive (1873)
- All that was left of the homeward bound (1873)
- War time (1874; Chrysler Museum of Art)
- Apollo (1874; Bury Art Museum, Bury)
- Apollo (1874; watercolour)
- Double Entendre (1875)
- Watching dog (1875; Sudley House, Liverpool)
- Deer stealers pursued by sleuth hounds (1875; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne)
- The last of the garrison (1875; Manchester Art Gallery)
- Pallas Athena and the herdman's dogs (1876,93–94; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
- Humpty dumpty (1876)
- A stern chase is always a long chase (1876)
- Comala ('Where art thou, O! Fingal? The night is gathering around' — Ossian) (1876)
- 'The lions roaring after their prey do seek their meat from God' Psalm 104:21 (1876)
- Lazarus (1877)
- The legend of St. Patrick (1877)
- Sympathy (1877; Royal Holloway, University of London, bought by Martin Holloway, 1878, £2,626)
- An anxious moment (1878; Royal Holloway, University of London, bought by Martin Holloway, 1883, £1,732 10s)
- Sympathy (c. 1878; Tate, London, replica of 1877 work)
- Persepolis ('They say the lion and the lizard keep the courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep') (1878)
- 'In Manus Tuas, Domine' (1879; Manchester Art Gallery)
- The night watch (1880; Walters Art Museum, Baltimore)
- The last spoonful (1880; Hamburg Kunsthalle)
- A Roman holiday (1881; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne)
- Hope deferred (1881; Private collection)
- The magician's doorway (1882)
- Una (1882)
- Giant's at play (1882; Tate, London)
- Companions in misfortune (1883; Tate, London)
- The miracle of the gaderene swine (1883; Tate, London)
- 'The mouse ran up the clock' (1884)
- The eve of St. Bartholomew (1884)
- 'Vae Victis' (1885)
- 'Union is strength' (1885)
- Necessity is the mother of invention (1885)
- Rizpah (1886; Private collection)
- Jilted! (1887; Philadelphia Museum of Art)
- Adonis wounded (1887; Private collection)
- Compulsory education (1887)
- An old world wanderer ('The first that ever burst into that silent sea') (1887; Nottingham City Museums and Galleries)
- Requiescat (1888; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney)
- A blockade runner (1888; Tate, London)
- 'Of a fool and his folly there is no end' (1889)
- Rus in urbe (1890; Private collection)
- Daniel's answer to the king (1890; Manchester Art Gallery)
- Tantalus (1891; Private collection)
- A mighty hunter before the Lord (1891; Untraced)
- Pride of place (1891; Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter)
- The king's libation (1893; Private collection)
- Out with intent (1894)
- 'The most devoted of her slaves' (1894; Private collection)
- Beyond man's footsteps (1894; Tate, London)
- Phoebus Apollo (1895; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)
- Aggravation (1896)
- The temptation in the wilderness (1898; Guildhall Art Gallery, London)
- St. George (1900)
- 'When our gudeman's awa' (1900)
- To the hills (1901)
- Aphrodite (1902; Dahesh Museum of Art, New York)
- Lost or strayed (1905; Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum)
- Androclus and the lion (1908)
- Childe Roland to the dark tower came (1917; Norwich Castle Museum)
He also painted portraits, most notably of his brother-in-law, Sydney Thompson Dobell, the poet and breeder of deerhounds. A pencil sketch of Sydney Dobell by him is in the National Portrait Gallery. Sydney Dobell's deerhounds appeared in several of his works, notably The empty chair of 1869. A faithful bloodhound figures prominently in Requiescat (he made a repetition of the work in 1889, now in a private collection), The last of the garrison and Naughty boy or compulsory education (1909), which was used by Pears Soap in the sequence of promotional pictures begun with Millais' Bubbles. Early in his career, he made some mark as an illustrator, beginning with Punch. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1878, and R.A. in 1881, and received the degree of DCL at Oxford in 1891. He was only narrowly defeated in the election for President of the Royal Academy in 1896. His wife, Mary Alice Rivière (née Dobell; 1844–1931) who he married in 1867, was a painter and exhibited briefly at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1869–70. After his death she presented the British Museum with four of his drawings (and an etching The king drinks), which complements the dozens of prints made after his work housed there, especially by Frederick Stacpoole and William Henry Simmons. The artist and his wife had seven children; five sons and two daughters. One of the sons, Hugh Goldwin Rivière (1869–1956), became a noted portraitist.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Briton Rivière.|
- Armstrong, Sir Walter (1891). Briton Rivière, R.A; His Life and Work, The Art Annual.
- Ann Lauren: Biography of Rivière
- 'How I paint animals', Chums Boys Annual, No. 256, Vol. V, 4 August 1897
- Christie's, London, 7 July 1922, lot 21.
- Christie's, London, 7 July 1922, lot 20.
- Christie's, London, 12 December 1921, lot 121.
- Chapel, Jeannie (1982). Victorian Taste, The complete catalogue of paintings at Royal Holloway College. Surrey: Royal Holloway College. pp. 126–27. ISBN 0 902194 08 9.)
- Stephen George Holland (1817–1908), his sale, Christie's, London, 25–26, 29 June 1908, lot 98.
- Christie's, London, 9 April 1926, lot 134.
- Stephen George Holland (1817–1908), his sale, Christie's, London, 25–26, 29 June 1908, lot 99.