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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Briton Riviere   20 May 1872

16 Addison Road | Kensington W

May 20/72

Dear Sir

I am very glad that the first block will be of use to you but I must alter the hairs on the dog back myself. The engraver cannot so will you kindly ask Mr Cooper to send it to me again.1

With regard to the second dog I endeavoured to carry out your written remarks & in one important respect did so contrary to my own belief & experience (viz, in putting the head down instead of up   I think that a dog seldom or never puts its head down when it sees its master unless it is afraid of him. A dog never puts on the expression you want except in the presence of a man & always looks at the mans eye & so always puts its own head up. To give the effect of a wagging tail is impossible in a drawing which can only illustrate a climax. In painting it can only be hinted at & the observer must know what is meant before he looks at the picture. Setting on one side the “wagging tail” I think that the accompanying rough sketch gives an idea of the expression you want & should you think so I should have much pleasure in drawing it on the wood for you if you will kindly ask Cooper to send another block with the 1st illustration.2 I am quite sure you will forgive me for returning your very kind present & will understand my motive when I tell you that as a student of animal expression it has given me much pleasure to assist you & I told Miss Bonham Carter that I had so steadily refused to draw on wood that these sketches would be simply a labour of love.3 What I should like would be if you would send me a copy of the book when it is done4

I am dear Sir with many thanks | Yours truly | Briton Riviere


The sketch has not been found. The dog in Expression, p. 53, fig. 6, has its head tilted up.
Riviere’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix IV).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Will himself correct the details on the woodblock CD finds acceptable. The second one followed CD’s instructions, contrary to his own experience.

Letter details

Letter no.
Briton Riviere
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 176: 177
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8340,” accessed on 27 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20