This composition originated as a watercolor for Sir William Drummond Stewart’s album (CR# 373, unlocated). In the version for Stewart, there are only two hunters, Stewart and Antoine, who ride in from the lower right. Neither has their weapon drawn, but Antoine appears to be gesturing to Stewart as if to suggest they split up and surround the herd. Miller has also articulated the distant buttes more clearly. The title of the sketch, Running a Band of Elk, near the Cut Rocks of the Platte, might possibly refer to Split Rock, an important landmark along the Oregon Trail, one day’s journey east of Devil’s Gate. However the formation to the right does not clearly show the signature cleft that was visible to travelers two days before and after reaching the landmark.
In this version, Miller has replaced Stewart and Antoine with four Indian hunters with bows and lances drawn. The animals are placed at a greater distance, and no longer jump over a cleft in the ground. In his commentary, Miller notes that the puffs of dust visible around some of the animals represent those that have been hit and have fallen.
The landscape setting is considerably less specific in this version, as indicated by Miller’s title. Since there is no intermediate sketch located, it is possible that the lack of specificity results from Miller’s not copying this composition to take home with him from Scotland, but rather recreating it from memory.
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift