In this watercolor, Miller has clarified his earlier composition, completing the rendering of his figures and distinguishing clouds and tree from the amorphous washes that composed the upper right of the earlier sketch (CR #94). He has also pulled back his frame of view and articulated a broader, deeper space for his figures to inhabit. With these changes, however, Miller has lost much of the sense of mystery and reverie evoked by the earlier version.
In the text accompanying this image, Miller focuses on the process of meal preparation, and the method of spitting the hump-rib. In his Rough Draughts text, however, he also includes a lengthy passage about how the campfire was the setting for trappers and Indians to tell stories of daring escapes and feats of hunting and warfare. In antebellum America, the evening hearth was known as a place for family camaraderie and storytelling. Miller extends these associations to the campfire, and presents it in the imagery of the earlier sketch (CR# 94) and note, as a place that inspires imagination and reverie: “Stories & adventures largely taxing your credulity but doubtless correct in the main are addressed to willing listeners;–[illeg.] Bears,–the perils of the Indian raid,–Savage warfare, & narrow escapes are the prevailing topics…. Hero worship will never cease in this world, while there are men ready to do & dare any thing—to face & have any danger, & to encounter any peril for the sake of this charming incense.”
Signed LL: Miller. LL: 11
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift