Like many of the watercolors in the Beinecke’s collection, this appears to be a sketch, rather than a finished artwork. The sheet has wear and small tears along the top, bottom, and right edges. The clean left edge appears to have been substantially trimmed, cutting off the seated figure’s foot and distorting the balance of the composition so that too much emphasis falls along the left. Pencil sketching is visible in some of the branches of the tree, while the artist has attempted to remove some of the upper branches under a veil of wash. Likewise, he has rubbed out the word “Swinging” under the title at the upper right and covered over most of the word with opaque gouache.
Given the thematic similarity of this sketch to other provocative genre scenes of Indian women painted for the Stewart commission, such as Giving Drink to a Thirsty Trapper (CR# 459A), Female Indians Toilet (CR# 473A), and Indian Women (CR# 475A), it seems likely that this scene was originally painted for Stewart and was one of the three scenes (by Miller’s numbering, sketches 35, 64, and 71) missing from the album when it was sold at Parke-Bernet in 1966. This sketch may have been copied directly from Stewart’s watercolor in Scotland, or recreated from memory in Baltimore in preparation for the Walters commission.
LL: AJM. UR: Snake Indian Girl/[formerly: Swinging]
The artist; [?]; present owner