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. "It is near the close of day, and the sun is throwing a warm glow over the distant hills. The group represented in the sketch is simply some Indians seated near their camp fire, talking and smoking, while preparations are busily going forward for a feast. A warrior chief has just dismounted from his horse, returning from hunting, or something worse, and the inevitable pipe is ready for him. The scene would appear almost Arcadian, if we did not know that a sudden war whoop would rouse instantly the demon within them, and change altogether the aspect of things. In a state of quietude, they are merely sleeping volcanoes liable to break forth at any moment; the slightest provocation converting the fair scene into one of carnage and desolation." 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] 91
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860
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