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. "From the bluffs, as from an observatory, the vigilant Indian overlooks the prairie far and near. His cunning eye sweeps the horizon in all directions & from long practice he discerns an object (like the sailor on the ocean) much sooner than an ordinary observer. He marks in what direction game is to be had, the approach of an enemy or emigrant train (all being fish that come to his net). He balances the chances if the latter, and uses his discretion whether to send out his warriors or not, for he will not give battle without the odds are greatly in his favor. In collision he asks no quarter, nor expects any, but has an intense admiration that 'to the victor belongs the spoils' and carries it out to the last letter." 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. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971.
- Alfred Jacob Miller and the Western Indians. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2006.
Provenance William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1858-1860, by commission; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Monogram] Lower left: AJMiller; [Number] Lower right: 59
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860
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