'Fidelity' by Briton Rivière

painting of a dog looking up at an unhappy seated man

‘Fidelity’ shows a poacher and his faithful dog awaiting trial in prison. The laws against poaching in the Victorian era were administered with great but declining severity. 

The Times commented on ‘Fidelity’s’ lack of realism, as prisoners were not allowed to be imprisoned with their dogs. The art critic FG Stephens later suggested that perhaps the poacher and his dog were only temporarily locked up in a country house before being moved to the local jail.

Whatever the circumstances, Rivière took the opportunity to combine two of his favourite subjects, the poacher, and the dog as a companion in hardship. The Art Journal critic particularly admired the dog, describing how it was:

"very admirable for the expression of sympathy and pity he bestows upon his master."  

You can see this painting on display at the Lady Lever Art Gallery and prints are available from our online shop.

  • Painted in 1869
  • Oil paint on canvas
  • Purchased by William Hesketh Lever in 1903 
  • Accession number LL3123