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Trappers Starting for the Beaver Hunt
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Trappers Starting for the Beaver Hunt

Description Conservation Exhibitions 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. "Trappers are divided into three classes, - the hired, the free, and the trapper 'on his own hook.' ... On starting for the hunt the trapper fits himself out with full equipment. In addition to his animals he procures 5 or 6 traps (usually carried in a trap-sack), ammunition, a few pounds of tobacco, a supply of moccasins, a wallet called a 'possible sack,' gun, bowie knife, and sometimes a tomahawk. Over his left shoulder and under his right arm hang his buffalo powder-horn, a bullet pouch in which he carries balls, flint, and steel, with other knick-knacks. ... Encircled with danger, they wander far and near in pursuit of 'sign' of beaver. Ever on the alert, a turned leaf, grass pressed down, or the uneasiness of his animals, are palpable to him of proximity to an Indian foe, and places him on his guard," 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
  • 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.
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; [Number] 55
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860

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watercolor and gouache on paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 11 3/16 x W: 9 3/8 in. (28.4 x 23.8 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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