In his second novel of his experience in the mountains, Edward Warren (1854), Stewart describes the spectacle of the arrival of the Snake Indians at the rendezvous. Their “orbit was continually in motion,” he wrote, suggesting that they rode in a circle around the camp, which Miller depicts in the painting. “The party we found approaching was gay and gallant and trim, the horses were of every colour, and the squaws who were with them, shown out in the most costly jewels of the land; and their housings and horse gear Claritin flaming red, or dazzled with embroidered white, upon various coloured and painted palfrey’s; while their admirers curvetted their running horses around to attract attention, and the husbands or fathers alone maintained the sedate demeanor which they wish to be an example to the joyous spirit of youth, so hardly to be restrained” (Stewart, 1986, p. 167).
Miller did this version of the painting, and perhaps others, after he would have read this passage. It could have served as a vivid reminder of the events that he, too, witnessed when he began to prepare the William T. Walters commission in 1858 – 1859. Of the several versions that he did, this one is, in many ways, perhaps the most finished and painterly version. Miller has set Stewart and his party, the Indian teepees, and the mountains even further in the distance while providing an uncluttered foreground. He has also included a number of puffs of smoke coming from the Indians rifles, suggesting the celebration and frenzy of the scene.
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner