This watercolor is surely based on CR# 459, which bears the same number on verso as is inscribed on this sheet. Its composition appears to follow CR# 459 in almost every particular, including the coloring of the trappers’ jackets and the red cloth which drapes down the woman’s back with no visible means of support. At first it appears that only the gun is missing. On closer inspection, however, a faint gun barrel sketched in pencil is visible cupped in the trapper’s left hand. Miller appears to have been ambivalent about its inclusion, as the element is neither painted like the rest of the image, nor erased. The woman’s naked breasts are also generalized and flattened, as if to minimize their presence and tone down the more provocative associations of the image.
Miller’s accompanying text likewise avoids a direct discussion of the trapper and the woman’s relationship, but focuses coyly on the trapper’s excessive thirst: “One of the greatest privations to be combatted on the prairies is the want of water. The Trapper leaves his camp in the morning, and after traveling all day under a hot and oppressive sun, his tongue parched and swollen, and almost cleaving to the roof of his mouth;–you may fancy, under such circumstances with what delight he hails at a distance, the life-giving stream.”
Signed, LR: AJMiller. LR: 102
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift