In 1860, perhaps in response to his successful completion of a commission of two hundred watercolors for William T. Walters in August 1860, Miller received three separate commissions for “Indian sketches” from Baltimore patrons: six for commissions merchant J.A. Hoogenwerff, four for successful bookseller Lewis E. Baily, and two for Miller’s good friend, scholar and author Brantz Mayer. Joan Troccoli has speculated that this highly-finished watercolor on a clean, neatly trimmed sheet came from one of those commissions.
Miller’s framing of the promontory, which appears steep with no ready access, restores the sense of the figure poised above the landscape. As in earlier versions, Miller has removed any reference to the distant valley or to the approaching caravan and neither the horse nor rider betrays a sense of danger.
Miller’s handling of the figure and the horse is economical and refined, with few extraneous strokes. The foliage and grass along the outcropping is delicately painted and helps to both soften the rocks and tie the landscape to the horse’s shaggy mane and to the fringed clothing of the rider. The watercolor is rendered in paler, more transparent tones and, true to its medium, Miller has foregone the thick application of gouache highlights present in the Walters’ version.
Signed LL: AJM/1860
The artist; Mrs. Crawford Smith, Baltimore, MD; [M. Knoedler and Co., New York, NY 1951 – 1959]; Thomas Gilcrease, Tulsa, OK; present owner by gift