Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) - Breakfast at Sunrise

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Breakfast at Sunrise

"The sketch represents 'our mess' at the morning meal;- Jean whi is pouring out coffee, seems to our hungry eyes more graceful than Hebe disposing Nectar, although he is more shapeless than a log of wood. The plate service of the table is of capital tin ware, partout, and the etiquette rigid in some particulars;- for instance, nothing in the shape of a fork must be used. With a 'Bowie' you separate a large rib from the mass before you, hold firmly to the smaller end, and your outrageous appetite teaches all the rest. The usual mode of sitting is cross-legged like a Turk. Indians are looking on patiently, in order to be ready for the 2nd table." 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.