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Caravan: Trappers Crossing the River &c.
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Caravan: Trappers Crossing the River &c.

Description Conservation Provenance Inscription 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. "The scene depicts one of the crossings, and not a favorable one. The water is deep and Bull boats must be resorted to. The Trapper in the foreground looking back at the approaching Caravan is waiting for orders, while others are testing the depth of the river by swimming across with faint hopes of any fording that will answer so as to avoid the construction of boats. The preparation of the latter loses much time,- sufficient Buffalo must be killed at once to furnish the hides, and while one party is in search of these, another is removing the goods from the larger wagons and taking the bodies from the wheels;- hides are sewed and streched over them, and the contents of all the other vehicles transferred,- the boats are then floated over by the men wading and swimming along-side. Canadian Trappers display wonderful good nature on such occasions, singing their simple French songs;- but when any fighting is to be done, the Kentuckian and Missourian take precedence by long odds." 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
Provenance William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1858-1860, by commission; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Monogram] Left center: AJMiller
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860

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watercolor on paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 9 1/8 x W: 12 15/16 in. (23.2 x 32.9 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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