Friday, June 30, 2017

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) - Camp Scene (Sioux)

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) Camp Scene (Sioux) 

"American sculptors travel thousands of miles to study Greek statues in the Vatican at Rome, seemingly unaware that in their own country there exists a race of men equal in form and grace (if not superior) to the finest beau ideal ever dreamed of by the Greeks. And it does seem a little extraordinary that up to this time (as far as I am aware) not a single sculptor has thought it worth his while to make a journey among these Indians, who are now sojourning on the Western side of the Rocky mountains, and are rapidly passing away. Most unquestionably, that sculptor who travels here,- and models fro what he sees (supposing him to have equal power and genius), will far excel any other who merely depends upon his own conception of what it ought to be. The subject of the sketch is an Indian's home;- he has planted his lodge on the borders of a small stream, screened from the prairie by hills in the middle distance, near which are some of his party." 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.