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Indian Women: Swimming
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Indian Women: Swimming

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance 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. "Whenever the Indians encamp on a favorable stream of water in the Spring and Summer months. The Indian women (when their taks are finished or domestic duties attended to) set off in search of a shady retired locality, and engage themselves in diving, swimming, and gambolling in the water. Of this they are remarkably fond and are not at all discomposed by your approaching thier retreat and looking on;- so far from it, that it only seems to produce an emulation among the experts as to whom shall belong the victory of diving and remaining under the water longest, or of swimming the greatest distance. Not a bit afraid are they either of spoiling their complexions,- the rich bronze tint of their skin bidding defiance to the rays of the sun." 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
8/19/1981Examinationexamined for condition
11/01/1993Loan Considerationexamined for loan
  • Alfred Jacob Miller: An Artist on the Oregon Trail. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody. 1981-1982.
  • 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.
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860

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watercolor on paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 8 1/8 x W: 11 15/16 in. (20.6 x 30.3 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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