LL 3123


A young poacher and his faithful dog are awaiting trial. Poaching scenes, often dwelling on their disastrous human consequences, were popular among social realist artists during the mid-19th century when the game laws were enforced with great severity. Here, however, the emphasis is on sentiment, not on retribution. Riviere followed Landseer's example in giving animals, particularly dogs, human emotions, and here the dog's expression is handled with great tenderness. Indeed, since the young man's face is hidden, the dog's compassion is the centre of the composition and it is so moving that we forget how implausible it must be that a dog should be locked up with its master. This picture was exhibited at the 1869 Royal Academy as 'Prisoners'. Lever changed the title to 'Fidelity' when he acquired the work in 1903; no doubt he wished to stress the sentimental rather then the punitive element for advertising purposes.