Tick, Tick. Briton Riviere, RA (1840-1920). 1881. Oil on canvas. Measurements: 36.5 x 48 cm. Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth. Accession number: BORGM 01870. Acquisition method: gift from Sir Merton Russell-Cotes, 1921. Image available on the Art UK website for sharing and reuse on the CC BY-NC-ND (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives) licence [click to enlarge the image]. Commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee.

Giving Riviere his due, by saying that he comes close to Landseer in his best work, the Art Journal critic suggests that he will never be as popular as Landseer because of his concern for "artistic quality" — a strange argument and one that cannot detract from the quaintness of this painting, which, as this critic says, shows "an inquisitive puppy ... in close proximity to his master's watch" (295). The point here is surely that the puppy is waiting for the passage of time to bring home its master. Then the key will turn in the lock and the wait will be over. The critic seems himself to be fixated on the watch: "No modern machine-made article is the watch, but a good old-fashioned turnip-shaped watch of loud ticking capacity, quite enough to overcome the prudence of any large-minded pup, however well trained he may have been" (295). Again, he seems to have missed the admittedly anthropomorphic point. The pug's patience is being tried, not his prudence. Pugs were very popular in the Victorian period and this one's wrinkled face and anxious eyes would have appealed to many a dog-lover as well as to art-lovers. Sentimentality is nicely offset by humour here.


"The Collection of Merton Russell Cotes, Esq., J.P." Art Journal. Vol. 57 (1895). 293-95. Internet Archive. Contributed by the Getty Research Institute. Web. 5 October 2018.

Created 5 October 2018