This oval composition is likely one of a pair of paintings sold to William C. Wilson in January 1854. Wilson paid the same price for Pawnee Chasing a Buffalo, which was also a 20 x 24 inch oval composition (CR# 364, inscribed with W.C. Wilson on the stretcher). Miller provided the frames as well, making it plausible that the two were meant to be hung as a pair.
In this version, Miller has created a more private interlude than in the earlier watercolors by setting the action out of sight of the village. The young woman looks up at the trapper flirtatiously, while he holds out his hands in polite anticipation of the cup. As compared to the other versions, the trapper’s gun here faces down, fully sheathed. His patient reach, however, belies Miller’s narrative of a trapper suffering excessively from thirst as recounted in the notes to the Walters’ sketches. Rather, the trapper’s earnest gaze allies him more closely with the groom pictured in The Trapper’s Bride. His bearded companion, seated behind him, likewise resembles the groomsman in the painting, and his chin-in-hand pose echoes that of his counterpart in the Ward and Hopkins versions. In this context, the painting functions as a kind of “prequel” to the action of one of Miller’s most successful narratives, rather than as a parable of privation on the trail.
The artist; [?]; Norman Hirschl, Lincoln, NE; present owner by gift