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. "We found this Indian at our encampment near Wind River,- he differed from all others in one particular; he was a bon vivant, a free, rollicking, laughter-loving Indian; - a kind of "Mark Tapley" -always jolly and extremely good natured. These traits recommended him to our Trappers, who were always desirous of having this rara avis at our Camp fire, feasting him to his heart's content. He made himself welcome by the most pleasing of all qualities, continual gaiety and bon hommée - his twinkling eyes showing how much he enjoyed the bagatelle of the Canadians. From his being somewhat more muscular and stoutly built than the generality of Indians, they gave him the name of Bras de fer. His fondness for fun, however, militated against him as regards position among his brother Indians, and not only precluded him from their councils, but also prevented his election as Chief." 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.
Inscriptions [Monogram] Lower right: AJM; [Number] 117
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860
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