Oil on canvas
A few years before Riviere became the most important contributor of animal drawings to Darwin’s Expression of the Emotions of Man and Animals, he invented this touching story of canine devotion. The picture, originally titled Prisoners, shows an arrested poacher with his dog, his only comforter, faithful even in adversity. The painting was acquired by Lord Lever, retitled Fidelity, and reproduced as a cheap colour print that could be obtained by collecting wrappers from Sunlight soap. Yet the clear relationship between the dog’s expression here and Riviere’s studies for Expression of the Emotions shows how blurred the boundaries were between Darwin’s scientific theories and notions of the animal mind that prevailed in popular imagery.
National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery.