Miller adapted this scene of Indian women watering their horses—and at least one other version (CR# 439E)—to an oval format. In related works, the artist used a rectangular, horizontal composition and included additional equestrian figures and a more clearly-defined mountain landscape in the background.
The oval format serves as a focusing lens onto the scene, calling attention to the Indian woman astride her white stallion at center. Miller depicted this principal rider with her back toward the viewer, but looking up and over her right shoulder, allowing for a profile view of her face. He clearly defined the details of her wardrobe and equipment from the fringe and quillwork on her dress, to the quirt she wields, to the impressive saddle upon which she sits.
Miller described Indian women’s horse tack and female riders’ typical dress in his notes, writing, “…over the body of the saddle is a mass of scarlet cloth, or a ‘mackinaw,’ on which the rider is seated;—on one side hangs her sack of ‘possibles’ worked most elaborately in porcupine quills; —her dress also is ornamented with the same material; —attached to the fringes are generally a number of hawks bells….” (Ross, 73) Many of the listed details are visible in Shoshone Females Watering Horses.
Karen B. McWhorter
The artist; [?]; Henri Estate, Baltimore 1932; [Hirschl & Alder Galleries, New York, NY]; Mr. and Mrs. A.M. Adler; present owner by gift