Thursday, August 10, 2017

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) - A Trapper and His Squaw 1858

Alfred Jacob Miller (American, 1810-1874) Bourgeois W---r, and His Squaw 1858

"The term 'Bourgeois' is given in the mountains to one who has a body of trappers placed under his immediate command. Capt. W...r, being trustworthy and intelligent, received an appointment of this kind, and with his men had many battles with the Indians... The Sketch exhibits a certain etiquette. The Squaw's station in traveling is at a considerable distance in the rear of her liege lord, and never at the side of him. W...r had the kindness to present the writer a dozen pair of moccasins worked by this squaw - richly embroidered on the instep with colored porcupine quills." 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.