Description Extracts from Alfred Jacob Miller’s original text, which accompanied his images of Native Americans, are included below for reference. These words, which shaped how Miller’s contemporaries viewed the watercolors, reveal the racism and sexism embedded in 19th-century exploration and colonization of the western part of what is today the United States. "We found among the North-Western Indians a belief in a great overruling power,- they believed also in an evil one, and while they regard suspiciously the former, take precious good care, also, to conciliate the favor of the latter... When a storm prevails, and thunder is crashing over their heads, they know nothing of positive or negative clouds approaching each other and discharging a surplus of electricity. With them it is the 'Anger of a Great Spirit,' who is displeased with his children. They become fightened, hang their heads, and deprecate his wrath;- their resolution for the moment is to do better. These resoves pass off however as soon as the cause is removed;- their consciences beign quieted and reconciled by the appearance of clear weather." A.J. Miller, extracted from "The West of Alfred Jacob Miller" (1837). In July 1858 William T. Walters commissioned 200 watercolors at twelve dollars apiece from Baltimore born artist Alfred Jacob Miller. These paintings were each accompanied by a descriptive text, and were delivered in installments over the next twenty-one months and ultimately were bound in three albums. Transcriptions of field-sketches drawn during the 1837 expedition that Miller had undertaken to the annual fur-trader's rendezvous in the Green River Valley (in what is now western Wyoming), these watercolors are a unique record of the closing years of the western fur trade.
|8/11/1981||Examination||examined for exhibition|
- Alfred Jacob Miller: An Artist on the Oregon Trail. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody. 1981-1982.
- Alfred Jacob Miller: Watercolors and Drawings. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984.
Provenance William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1858-1860, by commission; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860
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