This miniature portrait is signed "A L Riviere 1885", for Annette Louise Riviere (23 Jan 1837->1887) and active 1880-1887. She is recorded in Blattel, but not in Foskett. She was christened on 16 Feb 1837, three weeks after her birth at St Marylebone in London.
In the 1861 English census, Annette Riviere then 24, was living with her parents, William (1806-1876) an "artist of painting" and Ann (Jarvis) Riviere who had married on 21 Jun 1830. Her brother Briton Riviere (14 Aug 1840-1920) aged 20 was living in the home as well, also as an "artist of painting".
Annette came from a large family of artists, including her father, William Riviere, who was for some years drawing-master at Cheltenham College, and afterwards an art teacher at Oxford, but he also painted miniature portraits.
In the 1881 census Annette and her mother were living in St John Marylebone London and Annette gave her occupation as artist - painter. To date she has not been found in subsequent census or BMD records.
In most instances frames are not shown in this collection, but this one was an unusual and expensive item, being decorated in Chinoiserie style on a blue lacquer ground. As will be seen below, as Annette and the sitter Nora were related by marriage, as Annette's brother married Nora's sister, Mary Alice Dobell who was also a painter. Annette, therefore must have taken particular care with this miniature of Nora.
The sitter is Nora Selina Dobell Williams (Jun 1841->1924), the rear of the miniature being inscribed "Nora Selina Dobell by A T (sic) Riviere 1885, Nora Selina Williams, nee Dobell." She must therefore be the Nora Selina Dobell who married Edmund Sydney Williams on 4 Aug 1868 at Cheltenham, Gloucester.
Nora was the daughter of John Dobell (c 1798->1878) a wine merchant and his wife Julietta (nee Thompson), was the daughter of Samuel Thompson (1766-1837). Thompson was also a wine merchant and a noted London political reformer who was a leader of the Freethinking Christian set, whose principles proscribed all funeral rites and family mourning.
In 1841 and 1851 John Dobell was living in Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, Gloucs. He possibly also had an interest in the Britannia and Fleece Inns in Cheltenham, see View as HTML Nora was the second youngest of at least ten children.
The Dobell family had moved from Cranbrook to Cheltenham in 1836. The earlier members of the Dobell family in Cranbrook had been linen weavers, who had descended from Flemish immigrants arriving in Cranbrook in the 16C and 17C, see Dobell, George and Charlotte Dobell, Edwin King. Henry Dobell, probably the father or brother of John Dobell, built a mill in Cranbrook in 1814 that still exists.
One of Nora's brothers was the poet Sydney Thompson Dobell (1824-1874), see Sydney Thompson Dobell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and Kings and Commoners - Google Books Result
A very kind visitor to the website has pointed out that there is a full and very interesting autobiographical account by Nora's husband at Edmund Sydney Williams 1817 - 1891 Autobiography.
This contains a number of references to his courtship of Nora and of their life together. It includes the following extract which commences in 1867 when Edmund was a 50 year old widower.
I worked hard this year; I found work a blessing to make me forget my trouble. I often went to the Craiks, they were both so sympathetic. Once, I was driving with Mr. C. from the station, when he said, "You remember the two Miss Dobells that you saw with us." "Yes". "One of them is going to be married" - " The elder, of course." - "No, the younger, and to an artist, a Mr. Riviere (*see note 1 below), and they will come and live near us here at Keston." I was surprised, for the elder, Nora, was so very much more beautiful and then I asked, who they were. I had a notion that they were of some county family in Gloucestershire; I had heard that Mrs Craik had lived with them for years, and I knew that Sydney Dobell, their brother, had been very generous to several young authors, etc. Then he told me that Mr. D. was a wine merchant at Cheltenham. Then Kate's talk about the elder one came into my mind and I thought that I might have an opportunity of seeing her again.
In Oct. I had to go down to Cheltenham to see Mr. Dobson and, having mentioned it to Mrs. Craik, she wished me to go and see the Dobells, and she would write to them. I went to Cheltenham, and on the way stopped at Cirencester to see young Arthur Berckmeyer. I went to the Plough and in the afternoon I went out to Detmore, [Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. Home of John Dobell's family. D.A.S.W.], where they were all very kind and invited me to come and stay with them.
As soon as I saw Nora again I made up my mind to try and win her, as she was so entirely all one could wish for, only I was sure that there must be some reason why she should have grown up to be 26 and not have been caught up. I remained there for a few days and then came home and had a long talk with Mrs. C., who assured me that there was no one else she cared for, or she would have been sure to have known it. I was in too great a hurry, I could not wait and wrote to her, but was very gently but very decidedly refused, and so I thought it was all over and we went on as before - but Mrs. Craik and I had many conversations about her, and Mrs. C. thought that if it could be brought about it would be a very happy thing for both of us and she told me that in the spring her brother Clarence was to be married, and that they would all come up, and Nora would come and stay with her and the sister, Mrs Riviere, who was then married and living at Keston. She wrote to her and asked whether if she came I might come and see them, and to this she consented upon the understanding that it bound her to nothing.
In May 1868, Clarence Dobell was married at Hampstead to Emily Duffield, and Nora went to stay with Mrs Craik. They (the Dobells) had lodgings at Hampstead at first and there I went to see them, and one evening we all went to the Haymarket Theatre together, and I often went to Mrs. Craik's in the evenings and on Sundays and to Keston when she was there, but I could not make up my mind whether she would say Yes, and had written a letter to Mrs. Dobell saying that I feared it was of no use my coming down to Cheltenham, and mentioned to Mrs. Craik that I intended to do so, and at the last moment, when Nora was leaving by the train, she told her of it, but she said "Tell him to come and not to write", which was enough. I went to Detmore the Sunday after this and on the 24th May we were engaged, to the satisfaction of all the family except Dr. Dobell, whose wife behaved very nastily, and we have never had any further intercourse with them (note 2)."
*Note 1. This was Annette Riviere's younger brother, Briton Riviere, who married Mary Alice Dobell in Cheltenham in JAS 1867. He later became a successful painter, specialising in painting animals. In the 1881 census Briton and Mary lived in Oxford with seven children, a governess, and five other servants. For more about him, see Briton Riviere RA (1840-1920)
Note 2. The adverse reaction from Mrs Dobell, was presumably because of the age differential between Henry and Nora, which was 25 years.
In the 1881 census, Edmund Williams then 64 and Nora 39, were living in Bromley Kent. Edmund gave his occupation as publisher and foreign bookseller. Living with them was Fanny 30 from his first marriage and five children from the marriage with Nora, together with six servants.
In the 1901 cenus, Nora was living in Shottermill, Surrey as a widow of independent means, together with three daughters, Juliet N 28 an artist, Katherine C 21, and Ursula A 19 a violinist. 578