Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller

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Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller
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Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller
Waldron, Evelyn Rae Stool
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Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:46:30 PM] Home Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob MillerSentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob MillerSubmitted by jainlayconley on 7-21-2010 10:26 PMAuthor: Lisa Strong Publishing: Fort Worth, TX: Amon Carter Museum, University of Oklahoma Press, 2008. 208 pages. Color plates, bibliography, index. 11-1/4 x 10-3/4. $45.00 hardcover. Reviewer: Evelyn Rae Stool Waldron Reviewer Affiliation: University of Colorado Denver Lisa Strong is an independent art scholar; she received her PhD in art history from Columbia University and has worked as a research fellow at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Maryland Historical Society, the Winterthur Library, and the Amon Carter Museum. Strong served as guest curator of the exhibition Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller for the Amon Carter Museum. This book is the exhibition catalog for the exhibit of the same name. The oversized scale and beautiful illustrations in the book might relegate it to the coffee table book milieu; however, it has so much more to offer. In addition to the biographical information about Miller and a discussion of the provenance of the paintings in the exhibition, the book is a well-written history of western exploration of the 1830s and 1840s. Alfred Jacob Miller was unusual in the fraternity of western painters, as he had a patron who was interested in the American West and desired to have his own adventures documented. Sir William Drummond Stewart, a Scottish nobleman who came to America for travel and adventure, met Miller in New Orleans. Stewart hired the artist to accompany him on a trip to the annual fur trade rendezvous in 1837. Miller was one of the early artists to travel to the Rocky Mountains. His paintings depict the mountain men and the fur trade and the Native Americans and the relationship between the fur trade and the indigenous people. The book has four chapters and includes an introduction and conclusion. Chapter one explores the relationship between Miller and Stewart. Miller returned to Scotland with Stewart and completed the commissions while living in Stewarts Scottish Highland home, Murthly Castle, for two years. Stewarts influence is apparent in the paintings in that the Indians are comparable to Scottish Highlanders. Strong provides an in-depth analysis of the painting An Attack by the Crows, which depicts an encounter between Stewarts party and a band of Crow Indians. The text includes a quote from a sermon delivered by Cardinal Nicholas Patrick Wiseman (1802), who saw the finished painting at Murthly Castle. Of Stewart facing the angry Native Americans, the cardinal pointed out: This gentleman [Stewart] at the head of his little body of men, surrounded by yelling and irritated savages, provoking him to strife and for this purpose thrusting their fists in to his face, shaking their tomahawks over his head, using the most insulting gestures and uttering the most offensive words; but he stands calm and composed in the midst of them, knowing that the safety not only of himself, but of all who trust in him depends entirely EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanCasimiro Barela, state senator for over 37 years, fought to ensure Colorados first constitution was published in English, Spanish and German.


Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:46:30 PM] upon his complete command of self. I consider that really an attitude and a position worthy of a hero. (70) Chapter two is a discussion of the images Stewart chose from the field sketches. Correspondence indicates that by 1844 he had plans to use the sketches to illustrate his autobiographical novel, Altowan: Incidents of Life and Adventures in the Rocky Mountains by an Amateur Traveler. The success of Washington Irvings The Adventures of Captain Bonneville in 1837 may have induced Stewart to document his own bold undertakings with himself as the main heroic character. These images portray Native Americans as noble savages. Indians are painted in traditional pursuits associated with aristocratic sport, such as big game hunting and horse racing. The inclusion of indigenous Native American aristocrats echoes their Scottish counterparts. Returning to Baltimore, Miller obtained commissions. He also marketed to the public the images from the Stewart sketchbook, most notably his famous work The Trappers Bride. The painting depicts a fur trapper taking an Indian bride. This scenario suggests the crucial role of native women in the fur trade. These intercultural marriages benefited the fur company, trader, and the Native American father who was paid for his daughter. In a larger sense the painting illustrates westward expansion and economic conquest. The image was replicated five times in oil-on-canvas for commercial patrons and hundreds of times in watercolor. Strong also analyzes the relationship of the trapper and his bride: Thus, it appears that Millers trajectory of sentiment also traces a trajectory of civilization, with sentimental whites at one end, and unsentimental Indian men at the other. The brides hesitance serves two potential functions beyond melodrama. She demonstrates the Indian ability to manifest more tender sentiments (a quality often denied in contemporary frontier fiction) and, to the extent that the trapper succeeds in eliciting those sentiments from her, she also demonstrates the fundamental way in which whites might hope to civilize Indians. (139) Chapter four focuses on Millers watercolors, predominated with scenes of fur trappers around a fire. These paintings were not popular with Millers American patrons. The images represent Millers personal vision of sentimental manhood which clashed with the contemporary ideal of the active, financially successful selfmade man (35). Strong compares Millers paintings and point of view with other artists of the American West. George Catlin challenged himself to capture Native Americans and their way of life before they vanished. Charles Russell and Frederic Remington used cowboys as an image to reflect changes in American society. Strong points out that the West that Miller painted had the ability to reinvigorate and reform the business culture of the East. Millers West envisioned masculinity that was sentimental and thoughtful, in contrast to the machismo of Manifest Destiny. Strong does an excellent job of weaving together Millers biography with the history of his time. He succeeded in supporting himself as artist and visual historian. The reader gets to know Millers traveling companions through Strongs discussions of his paintings and sketches. Millers empathy and sympathy for the American Indian is evident in his sentimental and romantic portrayals. The chapter endnotes and bibliography are as impressive as the text. Strongs research includes many of the academicians of Western art such as Kenneth Haltman, Joan Troccoli, Carol Clark, and Alex Nemerov. Millers works are included in the collection of the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Public Library, making them accessible to the Colorado historian who would benefit from the book as much as anyone interested in Western American art. Reviewer Info:


Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 12:46:30 PM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Evelyn Rae Stool Waldron is a graduate student in history at University of Colorado Denver where she is a King Intern at the Center for Colorado & the West and the co-editor of the University of Colorado Historical Studies Journal. Her field of study is Western American history and art. She is on the staff of the Denver Art Museum. Add new comment