Briton Rivière was taught by his father William Rivière, and studied drawing and painting at Oxford, where, incidentally, his father had persuaded the University to introduce the study of art for undergraduates. Exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1858 he also made some mark as an illustrator, producing work for Punch. Elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1878, and R.A. in 1881, he received the degree of DCL at Oxford in 1891. He was only narrowly defeated in the election for President of the Royal Academy in 1896.
Rivière produced a mix of contemporary genre, classical and animal subjects, building a reputation as a fine colourist. Following in the footsteps of Sir Edwin Landseer, Briton Rivière successfully combined narrative drama with a close study of animals, painting pictures of wonderful pathos and exquisite beauty, of which the present lot is a good example.