This large watercolor depicting the fur trade caravan en route to the rendezvous most likely served as a sketch for the ca. 1845 oil painting which remained in the artist’s personal collection (CR# 58A). It displays the freshness and vitality of Miller’s early field sketches and Stewart watercolors. Miller confidently paints foreground figures engaged in a variety of activities, mounting a horse, taking down a tent, sewing and packing. Figures on horseback at the mid-right are rendered in little more than a few pencil lines with a stroke of wash; a few light pentimenti mark Miller’s experiments with the placement of details such as a horse and cart in the far distance. The lightly-brushed line of wagons and horses resemble Miller’s renderings of the caravan in the Stewart watercolors (CR# 58C), while the trapper raising his crop to his horse at lower left is similar in composition and execution to the early trapper sketches now at the Joslyn. Miller also includes motifs from the earlier Stewart sketches: the Indian woman sewing in the foreground returns and the standing Indian figure resembles CR# 331, Otium Cum Dignitati, Smoking the Calumet.
Contemporary accounts indicate that the party moved at a quick pace, traveling from Independence to the Green River in about eight weeks, less time spent at Fort Laramie. According to Miller, the party left each day at sunrise and traveled until dusk, stopping only at lunch to rest for the hottest part of the day. Miller was permitted to hire a trapper to set up and take down his tent, allowing him time to paint such scenes of camp life.
The artist; by descent to Lloyd O. Miller; [?]; present owner