Description "The Indian exercise great ingenuity, with an eye for modelling and symmetry in the construction of their canoes. From the want of proper tools they are compelled to hollow out the log by slow fires placed at intervals, removing the charred parts and again applying the fire;- this process is continued until sufficient depth is obtained, when with tomahawks and knives they trim and shape the interior with great patience and labor,- the log is then reversed, and after finisheing the bottom, the ends are crved precisely alike, in order that the boat may move either way when in the water. The birch-bark canoe (the subject of our sketch) is still more elegant in shape and more buoyant on the water,- but not so strong a the former. In propelling the boat the Indians use flat paddles, two or more on each side,- the sketch will convey an idea of the boat's appearance on the river." 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.
- Alfred Jacob Miller: Watercolors and Drawings. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984.
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: AJM
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860
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