Briton Rivière was a genre and animal painter, etcher and sculptor. He married the artist Mary Alice Dobell. He was the youngest child of the Huguenot artist William Rivière (1806-76).
Rivière studied under his father, and began to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy in 1858. His early works, such as Elaine on the Barge (whereabouts unknown), were influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters. Around 1865 he came under the influence of the Scottish painters John Pettie and William Orchardson, e.g. Last of the Garrison (1875; Manchester City Art Gallery). He made his reputation with Circe and the Friends of Ulysses (1871; Private Collection), which portrayed pigs, and indeed his most well known pictures were of animals. His pictures of dogs, such as His Only Friend (1871; Manchester City Art Gallery), were sentimental and extremely popular. He presented the painting Phoebus Apollo (1895-98) to the Birmingham Museum in 1898 as characteristic of his work.
He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1875, becoming a full member in 1880.
Armstrong, W., 'Briton Rivière: His Life and Work', Art Journal, 1891, p. 32; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Farrington, Jane, 'Briton Rivière', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 24 November 2003).