This composition hews quite closely to the version Miller painted almost a decade earlier for William T. Walters, but the background has been simplified, and the sketch has been brought to an even higher level of finish, with carefully rendered foliage in the background trees and more detail in the sky. Miller has also pulled the eagle feather bonnet forward in the composition and arranged it more visibly beside a quiver of arrows.
Miller’s note similarly contains much more detail about the clothing the woman sews. Miller tells us that the antelope skin is tinted salmon and includes information about the construction of the bonnet and a bear claw necklace, details which are absent from the earlier Walters note. Miller’s notes to the Brown sketches usually follow the content of the those to the Walters commission, but in this case, Miller has replaced a stereotype-laden discourse on the warlike impulses of Indian men (issues that were very much in the news during the period in which he painted the Walters images) with information about Plains culture. This shift mirrors the overall tone of the Brown sketches, which focus more so on Indian customs than on trappers or unflattering portrayals of Indians.
LL on mat: No. 9. / Indian Woman. / Making the War Dress. Signed LR: AJM
The artist; [?]; Alexander Brown, Liverpool, England 1867; by descent to Mrs. J.B. Jardine, Chesterknowes, Scotland; by gift to present owner