Thursday, May 11, 2017

Breaking up Camp at Sunrise by Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874)

 Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Breaking up Camp at Sunrise

At four o'clock in the morning, it is the duty of the last men on guard to loosen the horses from their pickets, in order to range and feed. At daylight, everybody is up;- our provisors are busy with preparations for breakfast;- tents and lodges are collapsed, suddenly thrown down, wrapped up, and bundled into the wagons. If the sun is 20 minutes above the horizon when our breakfast is finished, we conceive he has a reproachful look. By this time the horses are driven in, and each man hurries after his own, saddles or harnesses him, and the train puts itself en route." 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.