Indian Woman Making the War Dress

Alfred Jacob Miller1858-1860

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum

"The warrior is here waiting impatiently for his costume. Wrongs have accumulated to that extent in his mind, that nothing but sanguinary vengeance will restore his equanimity. The dress is being made by his squaw, it is sewn throughout with sinew, and is a most substantial and serviceable work. The body made of the best Antelope skin, and the whole decorated profusely with dyed porcupine quills of all colours, beads, scalps etc. The cap or helmet is filled with Eagle feathers so as to extend to the knee joint. The quiver is filled with arrows, and when all is ready, he does his enemy the honor to make elaborate toilet, - mounts his horse and is gone."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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