This finished version of the composition in CR# 472, painted for William T. Walters, has all the hallmarks of Miller’s later style. The image is brought to a high level of finish, with delicately-painted, individually-colored foliage and a pastel tinted sky. The artist uses thicker white paint to apply highlights to the clouds and to the quill and eagle feathers in the objects in the foreground. These thickly-painted passages contrast with the delicate transparency of the hills, tipis, and horses that appear in thin layers of watercolor in the mid-distance.
Miller’s titular reference to embroidering suggests the woman is in the process of embellishing the shirt with quillwork, or, by this time period, beads. Plains peoples considered beadwork to be a woman’s art, as opposed to heraldic painting, which was a man’s purview. Despite this gesture toward ethnography, Miller’s juxtaposition of the man, seated relaxing and smoking while the pretty young woman works quietly by his side, also places the scene firmly in familiar domestic settings of eastern America. Such scenes showing men and women sitting together in parlors or at the fireside were common in sentimental illustrations published in gift books and albums of the period. Miller frequently sought comparisons between the lives of white American and Indian women, finding commonalities or characteristics he believed were based in gender. Indian women also appear in the Walters sketches in other traditionally feminine roles, such as preparing food, caring for children, or keeping camp.
Signed LR: AJMiller
The artist; [?]; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD: present owner by gift