"Portrait of a Distinguished Family of Means", 1847
oil on canvas
signed and dated lower right, previously sold as "Portrait of the Fenwick Family", faint pencil inscription "Fenwick Family, Brewers" en verso stretcher.
38" x 48", framed 44" x 55"
Provenance: Sotheby's London, April 9, 1974, lot 97; Private collection.
Notes: An accomplished portraitist, William Riviere dedicated most of his career to art education, first at Cheltenham College, Gloucestershire, England (where he was instrumental in creating a highly respected art school) and later at Oxford University (where he stressed the importance of practical art instruction in higher education).
He received his earliest training from his father, a well-respected drawing master himself, before attending the Royal Academy School of Art. While at the RA, he was lauded by his professors and fellow students as a precise and talented draughtsman. The compelling family portrait presented here is a wonderful example of the fineness and detail of Riviere's work - the complex multi-figural composition, the lush fabrics and glinting metals which almost revel in their textural variety, the well-delineated background filled with elements of wealth and prestige.
Riviere was a consistent, if infrequent, exhibitor at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. His son was the artist Briton Riviere, R.A. (1840-1920).