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The Lost Greenhorn

Alfred Jacob Miller1858-1860

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum

"On reaching the Buffalo District, one of our young men began to be ambitious, and although it was his first journey, boasted continually of what he would do in hunting Buffalo if permitted. This was John (our cook), he was an Englishman and did no discredit to that illustrious nation in his stupid conceit and wrong-headed obstinacy. Our Captain, when any one boasted, put them to the test, so a day was given to John and he started off early alone. The day passed over, night came, - but so did not John. Another day rolled over, the hunters returning at evening without having met him. The next morning men were dispatched in different quarters, and at about two o'clock, one of the parties brought in the wanderer - crest fallen and nearly starved;- he was met by a strom of ridicule and roasted on every side by the Trappers. Thus carrying out that ugly maxim of Rochefoucault's "There is always something in the misfortune of our friends not disagreeable to us."' 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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