This composition, with its swirl of mustang mares, was first conceived by Miller around 1837. That version was produced as an ink wash drawing, part of a bound portfolio of pictorial mementos that was sent to Stewart for his library (CR# 449A). It was nearly identical to this watercolor except for the wash drawing’s immediate right foreground and upper left which showed two men in the distance, probably Stewart and Antoine, viewing the herd.
Miller’s notes described this watercolor as a “sketch” that provides “some idea of a band of wild horses engaged in their rough amusement and frolicsome pastime of biting and kicking, while some are rearing and striking with their fore-feet.” He indicated that these were mares and that the stallions grazed apart from the bunch in order to protect and control the mares that could be seen “huddled and feeding together” (Ross, 176).
Miller must have retained a version of this for his own use after he sent the Stewart sketch to Scotland. In 1852, a half dozen years before Miller produced this watercolor, he had the scene replicated as a chromolithograph which he titled Wild Mustangs (CR# 904).
Peter H. Hassrick