Reconnoitering is a watercolor drawing from the Stewart album showing an Indian man on horseback looking out onto the landscape from what is, on closer inspection, a rocky promontory. The lack of a clearly-defined landscape in the distance, however, makes the exact location of horse and rider difficult to discern and shifts the emphasis from the act of reconnoitering to formal elements, such as the refined anatomy of the centrally-placed horse and the visual rhythm of the rider’s sharp, slender lance with the horse’s delicate reins.
Reconnoitering has a freshness typical of Miller’s sketches made in the field or immediately thereafter. The composition is sketched in cursory pencil lines and set with broad color washes. Miller then articulated the forms in watercolor with a fine brush and later went over details with pen and ink. As with most of the sketches bound in the album, the work is inscribed with a number and matted on gray cardstock inscribed with the title.
Reconnoitering proved to be one of the most important and successful of the artist’s subjects. Over the course of his career, he sold at least eight more versions of the scene for some of his most important patrons, including a large oil on canvas version for Stewart and watercolors for William T. Walters and Alexander Hargreaves Brown (CR# 396A, 395E, 395I).
The artist; Sir William Drummond Stewart, 1839; Frank Nichols, 1871; Bonamy Mansell Power; willed to Edward Power, 1900; by descent to Major G.H. Power, Great Yarmouth, England; [Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, NY, 1966]; [?]; present owner