George D. Wise commissioned this oil on canvas painting in May 1865, along with War Ground (CR# 384D) and Indian Girl Swinging (CR# 470C, unlocated). It is possible he saw the watercolor of this subject in William T. Walters’s collection, or he may have seen a sketch of it in Miller’s studio. War Ground, which shows an Indian rider on a white horse running from right to left, would have made an attractive pendant to Hunting Elk.
As with all of his oils, the sky is highly finished so that tints of pink, lavender, and blue blend effortlessly into one another. The surface of the painting is smooth and the colors are vivid and glowing. Typical of his late works, the horse’s proportions are stockier with a shaggy mane and tail. The richly varied lines of the horse’s hair are echoed in the elaborately swirling drapery and the fringe and hair of the rider. Miller also creates strong color contrasts between almost black tones in the shadows on the ground and the bright, smoothly blended chartreuse band of prairie grass. The leaves of the shrubs and vines along the bottom of the canvas are rendered in thick dabs, again characteristic of his late painting style.