Riviere shows three labourers at rest, playing with a young bull-pup. The smallness of the dog serves to emphasise the size and great strength of the men. They are portrayed quite realistically in working clothes, their boots bearing the grime of their work. The feather and string game being played with the puppy may well be the first stage in the training that will prepare it for fighting and baiting. Riviere specialised in painting scenes with animals, often of a sentimental or humorous nature, which proved immensely popular with the Victorian public.
Gallery label, August 2004
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