Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) - Arapahos

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Arapahos 

"This scene represents an Arapaho Indian en famille, smoking his pipe and reposing under a blanket suspended from the branches of a tree, to screen them from the sun. We saw some fine speciments of this tribe. They do not shave their heads like the Sioux, but braid the centre or scalp lock with ribbons or feathers of the 'War Eagle.' We noticed also a difference in their moccasins, the fronts extending only to the instep and wanting the side flaps. Indians are capable of designating a tribe very often by merely having the moccasins. The Arapahos were tall, finely formed men, from 5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. in height. In setting out on their war parties, the process of painting, dressing, and adorning themselves occupies considerably of their time and attention. When a party is seen scouring over the prairies under thes circumstances it bodes no good to theose they happen to encounter. As regards their steeds, they have no geldings & we saw none, except those brought from the States. The animal thus preserves all his game spirit & is capable of great endurance. They partake somewhat of the Arabian breed." A.J. Miller, extracted from "The West of Alfred Jacob Miller" (1837). 

In July of 1858, Baltimore art collector William T. Walters commissioned 200 watercolors at $12  apiece from Baltimore-born artist Alfred Jacob Miller. These paintings were each accompanied by a descriptive text written by the artist, & were delivered in installments over the next 21 months & ultimately bound in 3 albums. These albums included the field-sketches drawn during Miller's 1837 expedition to the annual fur-trader's rendezvous in the Green River Valley (now western Wyoming).  These watercolors offer a unique record of the the lives of those involved in the closing years of the western fur trade & a look at the artist's opinions of both women & Native Americans.  The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.