Breton Riviere draws Sympathy with the brush of a poet

Sharjah: Osman Hassan

British painter Bretton Rivière (1840 – 1920) was known for his penchant for animal painting, but he also painted some striking artistic and historical paintings. He exhibited a variety of his works at the Royal Academy in London. His father is William Rivière (1806) -1876), who worked for many years as a professor of painting at Cheltenham College, then as a teacher of art at Oxford University.

Breton was educated at Cheltenham College and Oxford, where he obtained an arts degree in 1867. It was from his father that he learned the art of painting, and his uncle, father Henry Parsons Rivière (1811-1888), was also a well-known watercolor artist, having exhibited at the Watercolor Society The Royal Society of Artists, London , and the Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham.

Breton’s first works appeared at the British Institution, and in 1857 he exhibited three of his works at the Royal Academy, and in 1863 he became a regular participant in the Academy’s exhibitions.

He actually began painting animals at the London Zoo, and in 1859 he exhibited oil paintings of small cats at the British Institution, and as a young man he was exposed to the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites, but at despite his promising beginnings in painting, it proved that the success he aspired to was still elusive. He had to diversify by doing illustrations like many important artists at the time. His association with animals helped him to draw them, and his studies at the hands of Scottish artists such as : John Beatty and Sir William Cuyler Orchardson, established his foundations: “a series of animal paintings exhibited in The Royal Academy confirmed his growing fame.

The most famous painting among his works was the painting “Sympathy”, which shows how a dog rests its head on the left shoulder of a child. Breton painted this painting in 1878, and he was able to convey a great deal of show sympathy. on the side of the dog versus the child. Rivière’s drawing of animals achieved enormous popularity among the Victorian public because of his anecdotal pictures, so to speak, which often displayed the animals’ sense of humor and compassion for humans.

Human character

As an animal painter, Rivière tended to give his drawings a semi-human and emotional feel, and in later years he became interested in developing his work, attracted by wild landscapes in contrast to his drawings of pets with children.

His works appeared with high artistic quality, and these works were close to the school of Edwin Landseer (1802-1873), an English sculptor and painter who was famous for drawing horses, dogs and elk, so that it can be said that Riviere’s best drawings are similar to many of Landseer’s works, but Rivière was more associated with quality artistic.

In 1865, Rivière began his artistic journey by drawing sleeping deer, and in an interview with him entitled “How do I paint animals?” He explained some of the practicalities of drawing both domestic and wild animals: “I’ve always been a fan of dogs, and have gotten along with them to the point where I’m tired of having them around me. but you can never have a dog unless you love it, and I don’t paint a dog.” without the help of a man well acquainted with animals, and the only way to draw wild animals is to build up some kind of knowledge about the animal you want to draw, and I draw dead animals as well as living ones animals, and there is a beautiful lioness carcass in my studio, I have been more than Once dissection rooms in zoos ».


This charming painting by Rivière emphasizes the unique relationship between animals and humans, and whoever looks at the child’s face discovers a look of surprise with much absorption, contemplation and perhaps a question.

Here the dog appears, automatically leans in and rests his head on the girl’s left shoulder, as if comforting her, because of the mistake she made that led to her being punished for walking on the steps of the outer corridor sat from home. .

It is no secret to the auditor that the painter is able to show the dog with a high body of sympathy, and he is the one who asked for a thoughtful and balanced technique to draw the details.

In fact, the painting, as the most famous among his drawings of animals, highlighted a high talent and depth in studying the behavior of animals, especially dogs, and this knowledge appears not only in highlighting the faces of animals, but also in their behavior and body language in general.

You can’t help but love this art presented by Rivière, the wandering or contemplative girl, and the dog that supports her, making her feel tender.

“sympathy” was the most prominent among his drawings, and it is certainly one of the most popular and famous. The first version of this painting was shown at the Royal Academy in 1878, but the picture here embodies the second and last version of it, and it required him to focus on the details, and it exists today at the Tate Museum in London, among a group of paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy.

other works

Riviere’s biography includes many works, such as: The Old Gardener (1863), exhibited at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut.

This is one of the paintings that achieved great popularity, and there is the Long Sleep 1868, and Pallas Athena and the Shepherd Dogs (1876), in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and this painting relies on part of Homer’s Odyssey book. , where Athena appears to Odysseus when he finally arrives on his home island, then Disguised as a shepherd, she tells the hero, Odysseus, that his wife, Penelope, has accepted his death and remarried, and Athena helps him and provides him of the information he needs to restore his wife and his kingdom.

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