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 Commander, with his Indian guide and interpreter, has left the caravan on the plain and advanced to a 'butte' or bluff to reconnoiter, to see how the land lies, and interrogate the guide. These guides are often picked up haphazard on the prairie, having sometimes their own projects in view. From these elevated bluffs an extended view is had in all directions over the prairie, so that, with the aid of the compass, the hills and river courses, a pretty accurate testing of the guide's knowledge of the locality and his ability as pilot may be reached. The conversation is carried on by signs when the interpreter is at fault, comprehensible enough for all useful purposes and readily understood." 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.
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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