'Watching Dog' by Briton Rivière

sleeping dog

From 1865 Rivière began a series of animal paintings, a subject which occupied the rest of his career. Here he shows a terrier snoozing on the floor beneath a doorway while it is supposed to be on watch. The dog hasn’t noticed the little mouse behind, who is trying to pass unnoticed.

In an interview in ‘Chums Boys Annual’, entitled 'How I paint animals', Rivière described how he managed to capture a dog’s true character:

"I have always been a great lover of dogs but I have worked at them so much that I've grown tired of having them about me. However, you can never paint a dog unless you are fond of it... Collies, I think, are the most restless dogs... greyhounds are also very restless, and so are fox terriers" 

  • Oil paint on canvas, painted in 1875
  • Bequeathed by Emma Holt in 1944
  • Accession number WAG 292

This painting, from Sudley House's collection, is not currently on display. However you can find dogs in several of the other paintings at Sudley House, including:

  • A Dog of Two Minds by Mulready
  • Taking the Deer: the Duke of Atholl with Foresters by Landseer
  • View on the Clyde by Nasmyth
  • The Windmill by Creswick
  • Landscape, Morning by Creswick
  • Pastoral, Mountain Shepherd by Linnell
  • Landscape by Stark