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Pierre and the Buffalo
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Pierre and the Buffalo

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. Pierre, one of Alfred Jacob Miller's subjects, had several hazardous encounters on the trail- almost drowning, his horse being gored by a buffalo- before he was killed by a wounded buffalo. The incident depicted did not cost Pierre his life but was one in which he could have easily been killed. Miller painted several versions of this scene, including one from another angle. "His usual practice in hunting the Buffalo was, as he expressed it, to have 'lots of fun'; for this purpose after wounding the animal, he would commence tantalizing him either by displaying a red cloth, or in default of this, running at him suddenly, whooping & causing the animal to chse him in rage and agony. A Buffalo when wounded fights to the last and dies game;- incidents were not rare in which he would receive 12 Balls before falling;- dashing into a stream, if any was near, to cool his blood occasionally. The Indians admire and reverence this brave spirit in the animal." 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
12/18/1978Treatmentcleaned; re-housed
  • Beyond the Endless River: Western American Drawings and Watercolors of the Nineteenth Century. Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix; San Diego Museum Of Art, San Diego; Wichita Art Museum, Wichita. 1979.
  • 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.
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
10 3/8 x 14 in. (26.4 x 35.5 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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