When Miller received his commission for two-hundred watercolors from William T. Walters, it is likely that he did not have two-hundred distinct compositions on which to draw. He had painted eighty-seven watercolors for Stewart, plus a number of unique oil on canvas compositions. But most of his field sketches were fairly simple, single figure or camp scenes. Miller was surely faced with the prospect of inventing new, dramatic compositions to flesh out the commission. This watercolor may be one such work.
Miller focuses on an Indian figure in the foreground with his hair in a queue and forelock, equipped with the traditional lance and bow and arrow, rather than the gun most Indians would have used at the time of his visit. Miller relies on his characteristic device of billowing fringe and hair to add visual drama to the scene and to accentuate the rapid motion the horse and rider.
Although this particular image has no clear precedent in the Stewart sketches or the field sketches, a foreground Indian figure riding slightly diagonally toward the mid-ground is a common motif in Miller’s hunting and rendezvous scenes, suggesting that Miller was reworking the composition into a new narrative for the Walters commission