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. "In the immediate foreground of the sketch an Indian is running a bull-buffalo;- in the middle distance on the prairie is one at bay;- a hunter is provoking and tantalizing him by feints:- he does not precisely wish to lose his life, but merely to see how closely he can go without doing so. The great mass of buffalo pursued by other hunters are making good their escape through a distant defile, while in the extreme distance, the lofty peaks of the Sweet Water Mountains closes in the scene. Where one party of hunters are successful, and another less fortunate, they devide the spoils equally, in the most chivalric manner; the motto in vogue is, 'We must help one another,' and we believe this is universal - at least among the whites." 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: AJMiller; [Number] 102 (?)
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860
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