Though this painting is ostensibly an alternate version of the Walters watercolor Pa-da-he: Wa-con-da—Elk Horn:—A Crow Indian (CR #304A), the sitter appears markedly different between the two portraits. In this painting, Miller used strong shadows to delineate and emphasize Elk Horn’s full cheeks, lips, and chin. Also unlike the Walters portrait, Elk Horn gazes out at the viewer through sleepy, wizened eyes. On the whole, Miller’s subject appears older and less idealized in this painting.
When sketching on the trail, Miller concentrated on capturing his sitters’ distinctive features as quickly and accurately as possible. This small, bust-length portrait—in which the artist labored over Elk Horn’s face and only loosely suggested the remaining details—may have originated as a field work.
Karen B. McWhorter
UC: Pa-de’wa-con-da Elk Horn/No. 117. LR: Pade-he’wa-con-da
The artist; Thomas Gilcrease, Tulsa, OK; present owner by gift