Briton Rivière was a British animal painter who specialized in genre, classical, mythological and biblical themes. He was born in London into a French family of artists on August 14, 1840, thus his exposure to art began immediately. He attended the University of Oxford where his father, William Rivière, taught as an undergrad art professor. Rivière’s interest in animals began at a young age and was enhanced in his adulthood by numerous trips to the London Zoo where he would sketch the exotic animals. In his studio, he sketched from live and deceased models of dogs, cats and other domesticated animals, including his pet pigs. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1858. In 1971, he had his first successful painting, The Long Sleep (1868), which depicted a picture of a dead man in a chair surrounded by his two dogs. This pattern continues in Rivière’s paintings, with many scenes involving a person and his or her animal companions. He began exhibiting classical paintings in 1871 and with his instant success in the Circe and the Friends of Ulysses (1871), Rivière continued to produce classical pieces while also creating some biblical and genre scenes as well, proving his aptitude with color presentation and fine animalistic details.
In 1878, he was elected an associate of the Academy, with an achievement of the Royal Academician in 1881 and a degree as a Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford in 1891. He married Mary Alice Dobell, who was also an artist, in 1867 and passed away in 1920 leaving behind a legacy for many to admire.