Some of Miller’s smallest artworks are studies he made in the West. [CR#449] The challenges of working on the trail limited the size and type of materials Miller was able to tote along with him. During his 1837 adventure, Miller worked at a modest scale and often with pencil, pen and ink, or a limited palette of watercolors, creating sketches that were portable and dried quickly. The artist commonly used these small artworks as source material, creating additional versions of his western compositions for patrons or replicating them as chromolithographs (colored prints).
Miller continued to create petite paintings when he returned from the West, chiefly for portfolios of watercolors commissioned by William Drummond Stewart and later, William Walters and Alexander Brown. These large groups of small watercolors were meant to be bound like albums and thus the paper size used for each commission is nearly consistent, like pages in a book. For Walters, Miller generated two hundred watercolors recounting his western travels. These lovely (and little) paintings measure roughly 10 x 12 inches. [CR#52C, CR#301B]
Some of Miller’s largest artworks are oil on canvas paintings that he produced in his studio for wealthy patrons, namely Stewart. Miller made paintings like the Joslyn Art Museum’s The Surround specifically for Stewart’s Murthly Castle in Scotland. [CR# unknown] Soaring castle walls demanded paintings of great scale. The Surround measures 66 x 94 ½ inches – that’s nearly eight feet wide!