This small, brightly-colored watercolor is difficult to date or otherwise place within Miller’s oeuvre. The use of thicker white pigment and shiny gum Arabic usually appear later in the artist’s work. The surface is heavily-detailed with little use of the traditional watercolor techniques such as wash over graphite or ink, nor is there the layering of transparent colors often present in his field work.
It does, however, have the quality of a piece that has been heavily reworked. Miller appears to have written “Ne” as part of Nez Perces in the area just below his monogram, but the inscription has been erased or rubbed out and over painted. Below is a second line that includes “from” and a third saying, “Nez Perces.” The edge has been trimmed, however, and the edge of the inscription is truncated. The trimming and reworking, together with the small size, suggest a work that could have begun in the field.
The composition resembles that of Indian Woman Making the War Dress (CR# 472A), but Miller has reversed the direction in which the figures face, and positioned the second figure, probably female due to the presence of the infant in a cradleboard hanging on the branch of an adjacent tree, above the man on the embankment. A more significant difference is that the second figure is not sewing, but holds an undetermined object above her lap. As such, this sketch can be classified as a related image, but not a version of CR# 472, 472A, or 472B.
LR: AJM/Made from Nez Perces. On mount: Nez Perces
The artist; by descent to Louisa Whyte Norton; [Old Print Shop, New York, NY, 1947]; [Edward Eberstadt and Sons, New York, NY]; William R. Coe, Oyster Bay, MD; present owner by gift