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Buffalo at Bay
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Buffalo at Bay

Description Conservation Provenance Inscription Credit
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. "The scene represents a rolling prairie, and this is always unfavorable to the Buffalo;- To urge his huge weight up hill is to him not a labor of love. Heis here at bay, and has fallen at the top of the hill;- wounded, but by no means vanquished. The Indians in the meantime are racing round about tantalizing and menacing him,- fluttering a red cloth, and yelling at the top of their lungs. He bellows from impotent rage, rises on his fee, stamps the ground, flings the earth all around him, and then makes a dash at the nearest,- being perfectly familiar with the habits of the animal, they are quite prepared for this, and genrally stampede follows,- the attack is renewed as soon as he stops;- until exhausted with weakness and loss of blood, he falls again and is dispatched with spears or arrows. At times they require a good deal of killing - being very tenacious of life." 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.
Date Description Narrative
3/09/1989Loan Considerationexamined for loan
Provenance William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1858-1860, by commission; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Monogram] Lower right: AJMiller
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860

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watercolor on paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 8 3/16 x W: 12 1/4 in. (20.8 x 31.1 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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