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Prairie Scene: Mirage
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Prairie Scene: Mirage

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description Extracts from Alfred Jacob Miller’s original text, which accompanied his images of Native Americans, are included below for reference. The men were tormented by thirst several times while crossing the prairie. It was not unusual in such a situation to see a delightful lake looming on the horizon. When the horses did not "quicken their motion, or snort," Miller knew that he was seeing a mirage. Although Miller is noted for the first pictures of the Rocky Mountain fur trade, he also painted some of the freshest and most candid prairie scenes to come out of the overland trail. 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.
Date Description Narrative
9/25/1989Loan Considerationexamined for loan
6/01/1990Treatmentmounted; re-housed
8/21/1995Loan Considerationexamined for loan
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie. University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth. 1996-1997.
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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watercolor on paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
8 3/4 x 13 3/16 in. (22.3 x 33.5 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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