This painting must have been particularly important to Miller as it is one of the few that remained in his family. (This composition is also one of the few significant enough to have been rendered in oil for William T. Walters, CR# 58B). Miller’s estate inventory indicates that a number of his own oil on canvas paintings hung in his home. This may have been one of them, or it may have been painted expressly for his brother, Decatur, a wealthy commissions merchant who did business with many of Miller’s Baltimore patrons.
The painting follows the sepia sketch (CR# 58) closely, and the foreground here is a pastiche of the same earlier sketches (including CR# 283, CR# 419, and CR# 331). In addition, the Indian man in a hood standing beside a second man on horseback in the lower left of this version appears to have been based on the same figure in yet another Miller sketch, Root Diggers (CR# 406).
Miller has clearly invested a great deal in the execution of this painting. The sky is delicately modulated between pale pink, peach, and blue, and the artist has taken care to articulate a deep planar recession marked by increasingly tiny wagons and campfires. The foreground is bustling with activities whose variety and interest is a mark of all of his other sketches upon which he drew for inspiration.
LR: A J Miller
The artist; Decatur Howard Miller, Baltimore, MD; Dr. William H. Crim, Baltimore, MD; Frank Sherwood Hambleton, Baltimore, MD, 1903; by descent to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hambleton, Timonium, MD; present owner