Signed and dated 1851, this is the earliest recorded version Miller made for his Baltimore clientele and is most likely the one commissioned by editor and art collector Samuel S. Early that same year.
Miller has taken the horizontal format of the earlier Snake Indians (CR# 396A), with a valley below and caravan on the horizon, and reversed the rider’s orientation so that he now faces out toward the arriving party. Miller’s inclusion of the caravan changes the tone of the other versions (CR# 395, 395A, 395E, 395F) from a picturesque scene of a horse and rider on a precipice to a more ominous scene of an Indian man facing the advance of white traders. However, the Indian figure appears to be looking upward toward the sky, oblivious to the arrival of the whites. Rather it is his horse that looks directly toward the party with a grim expression. His hooves, which are raised and extended in advance of the precipice, also seem to signal the danger of the encroaching party.
The horse’s musculature, modeled in carefully-blended tones of gray and white, his meticulously rendered face, and the fine detailing of the rider’s clothing and accoutrements are all characteristic of Miller’s work in the fifties. Likewise the accurate proportions of horse and rider, along with his convincing rendering of the distant landscape, demonstrate Miller’s artistic maturity.
Signed LC: A J Miller / 1851
The artist; Samuel S. Early, Baltimore, MD; [?]; [Fred Rosenstock, Denver, CO, 1956]; present owner