Soaring an impressive eight hundred feet above the plain, Scott’s Bluff was the third major landmark for travelers along the Oregon Trail, after Courthouse Rock and Chimney Rock. The bluff, or cliff, is actually composed of Scott’s Bluff, plus five other large rocks: Dome Rock, Crown Rock, Sentinel Rock, Eagle Rock, and Saddle Rock. Scott’s Bluff stood one third of the way along the trail, and afforded excellent views of the plains beyond.
Despite its large size, this sketch bears the stylistic traits and wear and tear characteristic of Miller’s field sketches. The surface of the sheet is built up of beautifully modulated washes of green, brown, and lavender which are given form and structure by carefully drawn sepia pen lines. The thin, scalloped lines of varying thickness present here are discernible throughout the watercolors Miller prepared for Stewart, and in his field sketches (see, for instance CR# 135 and CR# 165A). The surface of the sheet also shows the kind of abrasions across the plains in the lower right that one might expect to find in a watercolor that had been sandwiched against others in a portfolio and transported over rough roads.
LR: Scotts Bluffs near the Nebraska/approaching from the [illeg.]
The artist; Carrie C. Miller, Annapolis, MD; Mae Reed Porter, Kansas City, MO; [M. Knoedler and Co., New York, NY]; InterNorth Art Foundation, Omaha, NE; present owner