The Sweetwater, a tributary of the North Platte River, was the main route by which trappers reached the rendezvous site in modern day Wyoming. Trappers forged a path along it that eventually became a wagon road leading to the South Pass, the most navigable route through the Rocky Mountains to the West Coast.
Miller’s field sketches and the watercolors for Stewart probably totaled about two hundred, but not all of them were suitable for reproduction for Miller’s Baltimore patrons. William T. Walters’s commission for two hundred western watercolors thus required the artist to devise new compositions. Miller had sketched the more famous rock formations along the Sweetwater River, Independence Rock (CR# 162), and Devil’s Gate (CR# 165A) and reproduced them for Walters (as CR# 69 and CR# 164), so here presents some smaller, human-scaled outcroppings along the Sweetwater.
The bucolic scene, with a still pool of water and abundant elk and bighorn sheep presents an inviting view of Wyoming for Miller’s eastern audience. Interestingly, Miller abandoned this intimate scale in the finished watercolor for William T. Walters (CR# 137A). In that version, Miller pans back and include a more expansive landscape, creating a scene that is more awesome than inviting.
UR: Lodge on reverse side. LC: Formations of Rock./near the Sweet Water. LR: no. 137
The artist; The Porter Collection; Mae Reed Porter, Kansas City, MO; [M. Knoedler and Co., New York, NY]; InterNorth Art Foundation, Omaha, NE; present owner