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Cinema & The Arts as Sermons: Painter Briton Riviere

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

Painter Briton Riviere

"Briton Riviere: A collection of 66 paintings

Description: "Briton Rivière RA (1840-1920) was an English painter; the surname indicates his descent from a Huguenot family which settled in England in the 17th Century. The family included several painters, and so Briton Rivière was introduced to art at a young age. He studied drawing and painting at Oxford, where, incidentally, his father William Rivière had persuaded the University to introduce the study of art for undergraduates. Though he exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1858, Rivière's first real success came only in 1869, with his picture The Long Sleep, showing an old man dead in his chair, watched by his two dogs. This sort of picture was ideally suited to attract the Victorian art lover, and Prisoners (1869) and Charity (1870) were also gloomy enough to win high praise. He began to exhibit Classical paintings from 1871, with Circe and the Friends of Ulysses producing an instant success: It was the picture which for ever fixed the place of this artist in public estimation; he may have been known and valued in the ranks of his brother painters before the wonderful pigs were produced, but it was the picture of its year and has never - being admirably engraved - been forgotten in public favour. (Magazine of Art) Daniel in 1872, Argus in the following year and the well-received Apollo of 1874 were further pictures in the same genre. Despite these Classical pictures, Rivière did not neglect the pathetic, with a domestic drama called Come Back in 1871, All that was left of the Homeward Bound (1873) showing a shipwrecked girl clinging to a plank in the sea with, typically, a dog for company, and in 1875 War Time and The Last of the Garrison. Rivière continued to produced a mix of contemporary genre, classical and animal subjects, building besides a reputation as a fine colourist. He became ARA in 1878 and RA in 1881, his Diploma painting being an animal picture, The King Drinks. Rivière's wife, nee Mary Alice Dobell, was also a painter. One of Rivière's most powerful pictures on a classical theme, Prometheus, is in the Ashmolean Museum, and a small animal subject, Tick Tack, showing a puppy investigating a clock, is in the Russell-Cotes Museum. Fidelity (1869), another sentimental dog, is in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight. " from video introduction.

Briton Rivière Danial in the Lion's Den
Briton Rivière Danial in the Lion's Den

Animal Sentiments: In memoriam Briton Rivière 2

A hundred years ago today, the celebrated Victorian painter Briton Rivière (1840-1920) died. In the first of these two articles commemorating his death, I looked at his training, career and a selection of his works up to 1885. This article concludes that....

Rivière’s relatively few religious paintings usually refer to well-known stories involving animals, of which Daniel’s Answer to the King (1890) is a good example. This refers to the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, told in the book of Daniel, Chapter 6. By this time, Daniel is quite an old man, probably into his eighties, and serving the mighty Darius the Mede. The ruler was tricked by Daniel’s rivals into issuing a decree that, for a month, all prayers should be addressed to Darius rather than any god. Anyone who broke that law was to be thrown to their death by lions.

Daniel continued to pray faithfully to the God of Israel, forcing Darius to have him cast into a pit of lions. When the ruler visited Daniel there at dawn, he asked him whether his life had been saved by God. Daniel’s answer to the king was that God had sent an angel to close the jaws of the lions because he had been found blameless before God.

Rivière shows Daniel’s age more faithfully than many artists, and must have used the lions in the zoo at Regent’s Park in London as his models..." from the article: Animal Sentiments: In memoriam Briton Rivière 2

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