Sympathy (figures of child and dog shown in close-up on the right). Briton Riviere, RA (1840-1920). Second version to be exhibited at the Royal Academy, in 1894 (according to the Tate Gallery label of August 2004, an earlier one was shown in 1878). Oil on canvas. Measurements: 451 x 375 mm. Frame: 748 x 668 x 123 mm. Tate Gallery. Accession number: N01566. Acquisition method: presented by Sir Henry Tate, 1897. Image available on the Tate website for sharing and reuse on the CC BY-NC-ND (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives) licence [click to enlarge the images]. Commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee.

This is the kind of painting for which Riviere was best known, and much loved: the idea of a little girl on what we might now call "the naughty step," being comforted by her sympathetic pet, appealed tremendously. The girl's surroundings are picked out in minute, Pre-Raphaelite detail: the gallery label describes him as "[a]lways a supreme technician in his pictures." Although the contemporary critic William Fenn found him "equally at home" in depicting various moods (147), this kind of empathetic attachment seems to be his true forte.


"Briton Riviere: Sympathy." Tate. Web. 7 October 2018.

Fenn, William Wilthew. Some modern artists and their work. Ed. Wilfrid Meynell. London: Cassell, 1883. 141-47. Internet Archive. Web. 7 October 2018.

Reynolds, Simon. "Riviere, Briton (1840–1920), painter." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Web. 7 October 2018.

Created 7 October 2018