Briton Rivière RA 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. (14 August 1840 in London – 20 April 1920 in London)
Briton’s father, William Rivière (1806–1876), was for some years drawing-master at Cheltenham College, and then an art teacher at the University of Oxford. Briton 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.