Approaching Buffalo

Alfred Jacob Miller1858-1860

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum

"This mode of killing Buffalo is often resorted to, and with attention to certain rules very successfully. The hunters having descried the animals at a distance decided whether it is most prudent to run or approach them. If the latter, as in teh present case, they ascertain how the wind is. If from the buffalo, they immediately commence their approach. If from themselves, they immediately start off making a wide circuit to the other side of the herd. The reason of this is that the animal's keenness of scent is most acute, and will take the alarm at the distance of a mile or more; while his eyesight is obstruced with the great mass of hair covering his head." A.J. Miller, extracted from "The West of Alfred Jacob Miller" (1837).

In July 1858 William T. Walters commissioned 200 watercolors at twelve dollars apiece from Baltimore born artist Alfred Jacob Miller. These paintings were each accompanied by a descriptive text, and were delivered in installments over the next twenty-one months and ultimately were bound in three albums. Transcriptions of field-sketches drawn during the 1837 expedition that Miller had undertaken to the annual fur-trader's rendezvous in the Green River Valley (in what is now western Wyoming), these watercolors are a unique record of the closing years of the western fur trade.

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