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Trial of Skill - with the Bow and Arrow
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Trial of Skill - with the Bow and Arrow

Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description While at the rendezvous of trappers, Miller had frequent opportunities to observe "trials of skill," one of the Indians' chief amusements. Of course, they bet on the results - beaver pelts against blankets, beads against wampum, pipes against tobacco. "This proceeds," Miller wrote, "until at last the very dresses they have on are placed in the scale of chances, sometimes reducing the poor devils almost to the condition of Adam, gambling being one of their strong passions." The contests themselves - marksmanship with the elk-horn bow - were usually conducted on a calm day over a distance of thirty to forty yards. The arrows, shown being made by the figure at the left, were tipped with flint or iron, with a neat and balanced feather on the end. With the elk-horn bow they could "drive an arrow completely through a buffalo," Miller claimed. The targets shown in this sketch were circles two or three inches in circumference.
  • Opening the Way West. Katonah Gallery, Katonah. 1981.
  • 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: Maryland and the West. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; Washington College, Chestertown; Frostburg State University, Frostburg; Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, Rockville. 1988.
  • The American Artist as Painter and Draftsman. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2001.
  • Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha. 2008-2009.
Provenance Bonamy Mansell Power; Edward Power [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Major G. H. Power, Great Yarmouth, England; Power Sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, May 6, 1966, no. 74; Walters Art Museum, May 6, 1966, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase, 1966

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ca. 1837
pen and ink with gray and yellow washes on paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 7 3/8 x W: 10 1/4 in. (18.73 x 26.04 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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