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"Big Bowl" (A Crow Chief)

Description Exhibitions 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. "This [Big Bowl] is a translation from the Indian name by the interpreter, who signified to him that we preferred his profile instead of front view of his face; - to this he objected, we wished to learn the reason, and after some delay, he said that if I had only one side of his face, in case he was in battle, I might have the power of making that side sick; - evidently looking on me as a species of magician. The reasoning was not very satisfactory, but he was determined to have his own way, a three-quarter view was the result." 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.
  • Alfred Jacob Miller: Watercolors and Drawings. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984.
  • From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2014-2016.
Provenance Commissioned by William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1858-1860; inherited by Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.
Inscriptions [Signature] Lower right: Miller Pt.; [Number] Lower right: 28
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860

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watercolor heightened with white on paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 11 15/16 x W: 9 1/2 in. (30.3 x 24.1 cm)
  • USA (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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