Friday, July 14, 2017

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) - Camp Fire, Preparing the Evening Meal

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Camp Fire, Preparing the Evening Meal

"A Trapper is here preparing that most glorious of all mountain morsels, 'a hump rib' for supper. He is spitting it with a stick, the lower end of which is stuck in the ground near the fire inclined inwards. ... The guard for the watch of night is seated to the left. His duty expires at 12 o'clock when he is relieved by another, who continues the guard until 5 o'clock A.M., when the horses are unloosed to feed preparatory to starting. Breakfast is ready at sunrise, and when finished the tents are struck, luggage packed, horses caught up, and another day's journey commenced." A.J. Miller, extracted from "The West of Alfred Jacob Miller" (1837). 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.

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.