Richard Godfrey Rivers

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Richard Godfrey Rivers (1858 – 4 February 1925) was an English artist, active in Australia and president of the Queensland Art Society from 1892–1901 and 1904-08.

Richard Godfrey Rivers was born in 1858 in Plymouth, England, the son of Richard Rivers and Bertha nee Harris.[1][2]

Rivers studied at the Slade School of Art (1877–83) in London under Professor Alphonse Legros. He won a landscape painting prize there in 1883 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1884. Rivers emigrated to Australia in 1889 and taught at Katoomba College (along with Phil May). Rivers was second art master at Brisbane Technical College from 1890 to 1915;[1] and was president of the Queensland Art Society from 1892–1901 and 1904–08. He was also honorary curator of the Queensland National Art Gallery from 1895 to 1914.[1]

On 25 Sept 1901, Richard Godfrey Rivers married Selina Jane nee Bell at St John's Cathedral, Brisbane.[3] They had a son (also named Richard Godfrey) in 1907 but he died in 1912[4] and was buried in Toowong Cemetery.[5]

In 1903, Rivers painted a picture "Under the Jacaranda", which has been described as "quintessentially Brisbane". The painting of Rivers and his wife Selina taking tea under the shade of Australia's first Jacaranda tree planted in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens beside the Brisbane Technical College by the garden's first curator Walter Hill.[6] The woman in the painting is often described as his future wife Miss Selina Bell, despite the couple marrying in 1901, although it is possible that an earlier version of the work preceded their marriage. The painting is part of the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery.

Rivers established a local reputation as a portrait painter, and portraits by him of Sir Samuel Griffith and others hang in the supreme court at Brisbane. He also taught at the Brisbane High School for Girls and at Brisbane Girls Grammar School. He moved to Hobart, Tasmania in 1915 and tried to raise interest in the Hobart gallery.

Rivers died of typhoid fever in London, England on 4 February 1925.[1] He was cremated and his ashes buried in his son's grave in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane.[1][5] His wife Selina died in 1948 in Hobart, Tasmania. She was cremated there and her ashes were also buried in their son's grave in Toowong Cemetery.[5]

Examples of Rivers' outdoor work are in the state galleries at Sydney and Brisbane.


  1. ^ a b c d e Janet Hogan, 'Rivers, Richard Godfrey (1859? - 1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, MUP, 1988, pp 397-398. Retrieved 10 November 2009
  2. ^ Index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales. Births 5b: 261. December 1858 |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Rivers — Bell.". The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 26 September 1901. p. 6. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Queensland Registrar-General of Births, Deaths & Marriages
  5. ^ a b c Toowong Cemetery Monumental Inscriptions - Queensland Family History Society Inc
  6. ^ R. Godfrey Rivers: Queensland Art Gallery

Additional resources listed by the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

  • Illustrated Catalogue of the Queensland National Art Gallery (Brisbane, 1908)
  • Royal Queensland Art Society, Golden Jubilee Review and Catalogue (Brisbane, 1937)
  • V. Lahey, Art in Queensland, 1859-1959 (Brisb, 1959)
  • J. K. Brown and M. Maynard, Fine Art Exhibitions in Brisbane 1884-1916 (Brisbane, 1980)
  • Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, vol 3 (London, 1970)
  • Church of England, Diocese of Brisbane, Church Chronicle, 1 Nov 1900, p 52
  • The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 29, 30 Mar 1895, 26 Sept 1901, 29 Sept 1979, 18 Apr 1980
  • The Queenslander, 13 June 1925
  • G. R. Cooke, The Milieu of the Arts and Crafts in Brisbane 1890-1915 (manuscript, privately held)
  • McConnell papers (State Library of Queensland)
  • Godfrey Rivers Trust file and Godfrey Rivers correspondence and biography files (Queensland Art Gallery)
  • Royal Queensland Art Society, newsclippings book
  • EDU/A416 (Queensland State Archives)

External links[edit]