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Prairie on Fire
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Prairie on Fire

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description Extracts from Alfred Jacob Miller’s original text, which accompanied his images of Native Americans, are included below for reference. Towards the Fall the grass, which has attained the height of 3 or 4 feet, becomes parched and dry. It is then very flammable and either by accident or design takes fire. The manner of its approach is insidious enough; at first a slight haze immediately detects the nature of the visitor, and all hands in the camp are immediately busy in setting fire to the long grass about them;- not suffering it to make much headway, but beating it down with cloths & blankets. In this manner large spaces are cleared, horses, mules, and tents are secured in the burnt areas, which are enlarged as time permits, and escape from certain death is thus averated through a very simple process. The fire sweeps round with the speed of a race horse, licking up every thing that it touches with its fiery tongue,- leaving nothing in its train but a blackened heath." 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
3/10/1993Treatmentmounted; re-housed
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
H: 9 7/16 x W: 14 9/16 in. (24 x 37 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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