Editor's note: The following essay was reprinted in Resource Library on November 19, 2008 with permission of the Amon Carter Museum. The catalog from which the essay is excerpted is available at cartermuseum.org/store or by calling 800-573-1933. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, please contact the Amon Carter Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:



 

Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller

Introduction: "Scenes That Do Him Much Honor"

by Lisa Strong

 

Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare's? But if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel's great telescope; and his ears capacious as the porches of cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or sharper of hearing? Not at all. Why then do you try to "enlarge" your mind? Subtilize it.
 
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick, or the Whale

 

Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1874) is famous today for his images of the American West, specifically of the Rocky Mountain fur trade and its participants. Yet the period of time Miller actually spent in the West (approximately six months) and the number of works he produced while there (probably about one hundred) are each relatively small. For most of his career, he lived and worked in Baltimore, and he found success there producing and reproducing nearly one thousand works of western genre between his return from the Rocky Mountains in 1837 and his retirement in 1872. The category of "western artist" encompasses figures like Miller and his contemporaries Karl Bodmer (1809-1893) and George Catlin (1796-1872), both of whom visited the West only briefly, as well as artists like Seth Eastman (1808-1875) and Charles Deas (1818-1867), who lived there for extended periods of time. Their categorization is simply a function of their subject matter. Although Miller's work ostensibly concerns western topics like the fur trade; Shoshone, Lakota, and Nez Percé peoples; and western landscapes, images of these subjects should be understood primarily as metaphors for key social changes taking place in the artist's own milieu of Baltimore and, for a brief period of time, Highland Scotland. In both locales, political upheaval, commercial modernization, and the increasing fragmentation of the upper classes transformed the traditional culture of the elite. Miller's gift as an artist was to recognize the profundity of such changes and to deftly use western subject matter, married with romance and sentiment, to address the transitions. Miller's subtle strategies of representation are difficult to discern at first glance; his images seem to be straightforward, self-contained scenes of western genre. Their meanings become visible, however, when his works are viewed within the context of the artist himself, his patrons, and the society they inhabited. Consequently, this study will offer discussions not only of life on the Great Plains and in the Rocky Mountains but also of life for a distinct stratum of society in the Scottish Highlands and Baltimore.

 

Alfred Jacob Miller in Baltimore

Miller was born and raised in Baltimore, and his personal and familial ties to the city were instrumental to the progress of his career. His father, George Washington Miller (1777-1836), successfully plied a number of trades -- tailor, innkeeper, and sugar refiner -- and accrued a substantial estate, including a home, warehouse, and sugarhouse in Baltimore, and a farm at Hawkins Point, Maryland (plate 1). Perhaps the most significant of his business ventures, from his son's standpoint, was a grocery store and tavern he operated from roughly 1804 to 1835. It was prominently located at the corner of Market Square near Baltimore Street, the city's main commercial thoroughfare, and formed a backdrop for many of his early sketches (plates 2­3).[1] George Miller's clients included two of his son's early supporters and patrons, eminent art collector Robert Gilmor (1774­1848), and merchant-philanthropist Johns Hopkins (1795-1873) (plate 4). Gilmor reportedly first saw the artist's sketches displayed in the window of George Miller's grocery store. Jacob Heald, a tobacco merchant, also ran a tab at George Miller's tavern. He not only commissioned portraits from Miller, but he also took on his younger brother Decatur as a clerk in his business. Decatur rose quickly through the ranks, becoming the owner of Heald Tobacco Commissions Merchants. It may well have been through Heald and Decatur that Miller gained the patronage of several prominent wholesale tobacco merchants over the course of his career.[2] Miller's father also had sufficient wealth and ambition to send Miller to one of the city's best private schools, the John D. Craig Academy, when he was fifteen. There he studied with the children of some of "the first families of Baltimore at the time -- the Baltzells, Gills, Welshs, Carrs, Lows, McBlairs etc.," some of whom became patrons either of Miller's portraits or of his western work.[3]

By his own account, Miller showed an early interest in art. He occupied his time during Craig's long lectures drawing amusing caricatures of his classmates, which his teacher promptly discovered and destroyed.[4] Although some of Miller's friends recalled him as having been entirely self-taught, John Early, a student and later a patron of Miller's, records that Miller studied with portraitist Thomas Sully (1783-1872) in 1831-32.[5] The highly finished surfaces and stiff pose of Miller's Henry Mankin and Daughters (plate 5) has been compared to Sully's work. Other portraits, however, such as Portrait of Mrs. Decatur Howard Miller (Eliza Credilla Hare) (plate 6), display the tightly contoured, almost wooden-looking limbs and local coloring that are characteristic of the work of Sarah Miriam Peale (1800-1885), also active in Baltimore during Miller's youth.[6] Miller's earliest recorded works, a self-portrait (plate 7), a life-sized painting of The Murder of Jane Macrea, ca. 1828 (unlocated), and a monumental history painting, Bombardment of Fort McHenry (plate 8), were done while he was still in his teens.[7]

With the support of his family, who strongly encouraged his interest in art, and with financial backing of wealthy Baltimoreans, including Gilmor, Miller embarked on a tour of France and Italy in 1832-34. His first stop was Paris, where he was admitted as an auditor into a life class at the École des Beaux-Arts. There, he copied Old Master paintings at the Louvre as well as works by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). In 1833 Miller traveled to Italy, visiting Florence, Venice, and Bologna and settling in Rome, where he was admitted to the English Life School. He studied works in the Borghese Gallery and visited the Vatican, where he copied Raphael's (1483-1520) frescoes in the Stanze della Segnatura.[8] In his journal, a series of impressionistic recollections probably written late in life, he described spending time in the Café Greco with other young artists and meeting sculptors Bertel Thorwaldsen (1770-1844) and the head of the French Academy, Horace Vernet (1789-1863).[9]

His graphic work was clearly influenced by French romanticism, particularly the work of Delacroix, whose Barque of Dante (1822) he sketched at the Musée Royal de Luxembourg.[10] Certain of Miller's works on paper resemble Delacroix's, both in style and in the selection of potentially sensual and exotic subject matter. Art historians have noted, for instance, that Miller's Waiting for the Caravan (plate 9), shows similarities to Delacroix's Women of Algiers in Their Apartment (plate 10).[11] In each painting, attractive and youthful dark-skinned women lounge in shaded comfort, awaiting the arrival of men. Miller's watercolor shows several young women resting in the foreground under the shade of a tree while the fur trade caravan approaches in the distance. One lies in the graceful pose of an odalisque, arm resting on the lap of a second seated woman who is wrapped in a rich red robe. The contours of their slouching, twisted bodies, echoed in the rounded forms and long, curving lines of the composition as a whole, find complements in Delacroix's famous oil.

Miller returned to Baltimore in 1834 and took a studio over a music store, advertising himself as a portraitist and copyist of European Old Masters.[12] His career was dealt a setback in 1836, however, when his father died heavily in debt.[13] By Robert Gilmor's account, Miller's income from painting was insufficient to support him without the financial assistance his father had offered.[14] Miller also may have faced difficulties because many of his potential patrons could also have been his father's creditors or debtors. As coexecutor of his father's will, Miller was partially responsible for settling his father's estate. One biographer has noted that he did not begin keeping a record of his painting sales until 1846, the year after his father's estate was settled, suggesting either that Miller had been forced to trade his early work as compensation for his father's debt, or that he wished to hide any income that could be called in to pay it.[15] Perhaps for these reasons, Miller moved to New Orleans in 1837. By his own account, he arrived in the city with only thirty dollars in his pocket, securing rooms and entrée into New Orleans society by successfully painting a portrait of his landlord and the landlord's wife.[16]

In the spring of 1837, Miller received an auspicious invitation from Captain William Drummond Stewart (1795-1871) to accompany him on a journey to the Rocky Mountains. Stewart was a Scotsman who had spent the past five years on an extended hunting expedition in America. Second in line to the baronetcy of Murthly Castle, Stewart had recently received word that his older brother was ill. Anticipating that the 1837 jaunt would be his last, he sought to find an artist to record the exploits of his journey. Miller described how Stewart visited his studio one day unannounced and carefully examined the works he had on view. Looking over Miller's shoulder at a landscape on his easel, he said, "I like the management of that picture and the view." He returned the following day to offer the commission.[17] Miller's narrative of their meeting stresses Stewart's interest in his artwork and includes a detailed, three-page description of the process of "dry scumbling" that he was experimenting with the day of Stewart's visit.[18] His professional competence was surely a factor in Stewart's decision to offer him the commission, but it may not have been the only one. In presenting himself to Miller, Stewart offered as a reference John Crawford, who was both his business partner in a cotton-exporting venture and the British Consul to New Orleans. Crawford, who served as British Consul to Baltimore from at least 1829 to 1833, likely knew of Miller already and might have recommended the artist to Stewart.[19] Consequently, Miller's first substantial commission possibly had its origins in Baltimore as well. After discussing Stewart's offer with Crawford, Miller eagerly accepted the commission.

Their destination that summer was the fur traders' rendezvous, an annual meeting between Rocky Mountain trappers and Saint Louis traders. The participants gathered at a prearranged spot along the Green River to exchange valuable pelts for a year's worth of supplies. Although the rendezvous played a pivotal role in the commercial enterprise of the fur trade, it also served an important social function, providing its participants an opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves after a season of isolation and hard work.[20] That July, the rendezvous was held at Horse Creek, a tributary of the Green River, near the present-day border of Colorado and Wyoming.[21] Miller, Stewart, and the rest of his party -- including Antoine Clement, Stewart's Métis (mixed French and Cree) hunting guide -- departed from Independence, Missouri, in mid-May 1837. They traveled to the rendezvous with a large caravan that included free trappers and employees of the American Fur Company, arriving about two months later. They spent only a week or so at the rendezvous, then headed into the Wind River Mountains to the source of the Green River. There they spent their time hunting moose and elk before returning to Saint Louis in early October.[22]

Miller reached New Orleans in the fall of 1837 and began work immediately on a set of watercolor sketches of scenes from their journey. By the following summer, he was back in Baltimore exhibiting some oil paintings to favorable reviews: "Mr. M. has not only enjoyed the advantages of foreign study, with the works of the great Italian and other European masters for his models," wrote one critic, "but at a later period, and with the benefit of a matured judgment, he has traveled through remote sections of the 'Far West,' where he has succeeded in giving views of the Rocky Mountains and other scenery that do him much honor."[23] By May of 1839, Miller had completed eighteen oil-on-canvas works that were exhibited at the Apollo Gallery (which would later become the Art-Union) in New York City to positive reviews.[24] The exhibition was well attended; Augustus Greele, the chairman of the exhibition committee, noted that the receipts of the exhibition had "more than doubled the amount of any former week since the formation of the [Apollo] Association" and that "the attraction continues to increase."[25]

In the summer of 1840, Miller traveled to Scotland to complete the Stewart commission at Murthly Castle. His correspondence from Murthly describes with relish his painting studio on the first floor overlooking the garden and adjoining the library. There he set to work producing oil-on-canvas versions of some of his patron's favorite watercolor sketches. He also completed two of his most important oils, An Attack by Crows on the Whites on the Big Horn River East of the Rocky Mountains [Crows Trying to Provoke the Whites to an Act of Hostility] (see chapter 1, plate 9) and The Trapper's Bride (unlocated). Upon completion of Stewart's western works, Miller traveled to London, where he took a studio and began work for his patron on at least one religious painting, Mary Magdalene Anointing the Feet of Our Saviour (ca. 1842).[26] George Catlin, who was in the city to promote his Indian Gallery, visited him there. The two must have had a great deal to talk about, but Miller's correspondence offers little more than the tantalizing barb that "there is in truth however a great deal of humbug about Mr. Catlin."[27] After postponing a commission to produce lithographed illustrations for a novel Stewart was writing about their trek, Miller set sail for Baltimore in the spring of 1842.

Almost immediately upon arriving in Baltimore, Miller purchased a small farm, "Lorraine," five miles outside town (plate 11) and opened a studio downtown in one of the Law Buildings. Suitable studio space was difficult to come by in antebellum Baltimore, but Miller's particular choice of location may reflect his understanding of the different imperatives in obtaining patronage in Scotland and in Baltimore.[28] Following traditional aristocratic patronage patterns, Miller had lived and worked in Scotland entirely at Stewart's expense, and all his finished output (though not his preparatory or "field" sketches) belonged to Stewart. Stewart, in turn, had a large degree of input into Miller's work, choosing which scenes from their journey Miller should sketch, which sketches should be rendered in oil, and how they should be executed. In payment, Stewart offered Miller what the artist characterized as "generous" payments rather than set prices for individual works.

In Baltimore, however, Miller could not expect sustained patronage from a single person. He needed to expand beyond the initial group of patrons that had supported him before his move to New Orleans and form a much broader network of buyers, each of whom might purchase no more than one or two of his works over their lifetime. Certainly a location like the Law Buildings gave Miller access to lawyers and merchants who could, and did, form such a network. Baltimore was at the time the nation's third largest city and a growing transportation hub, with ports and railroads connecting international markets with domestic as far inland as Ohio. The Law Buildings were located in the heart of Baltimore's commercial district, near the courthouse and the Mercantile Exchange, which posted the daily rates of foreign and domestic currency as well as the prices for Baltimore's chief commodities of sugar, flour, coffee, pork (or provisions), and tobacco. Though the rooms in the Law Buildings were small and cramped, Miller's studio was situated to receive foot traffic from some of the wealthiest and most influential of Baltimore's business class.[29]

Miller's studio certainly would have offered an enticing destination for visitors, crowded as it was with European Old Master copies, plaster casts, oil-on-canvas paintings of the Rocky Mountains, and portfolios of western sketches. Although it is tempting to conclude that the exotic western scenes in Miller's studio offered Baltimore businessmen a welcome respite from their daily cares, evidence suggests Miller's works may have instead encouraged their professional ambitions. Miller did, in fact, succeed in building a lucrative clientele among Baltimore's businessmen. From his earliest recorded commissions, for merchant-collector Benjamin Coleman Ward (1784-1866) and Johns Hopkins, to his last series of forty watercolors, for a partner in the old Baltimore banking and credit firm of Alexander Brown and Sons, Miller painted for a niche of Baltimore merchants involved in trade with the western territories. Their sustained patronage would make Miller Baltimore's de facto painter to the domestic merchant elite for a generation. Thus it is important to understand Miller not as a painter of the West, per se, but as one whose works reflect the close relationship between the artist, his western subject matter, and the economic and social life of his native city.

 

Alfred Jacob Miller as Western Artist

To say that western art is not simply about the West is not to say anything new. The Smithsonian Institution's 1992 exhibition The West as America famously made the argument that western American art was about such central national concerns as race, gender, immigration, and westward expansion.[30] Miller's work has itself been interpreted in similar terms, even by his contemporaries. One of his best-known works, The Trapper's Bride, was the inspiration for a famous passage in Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" (1855):

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west. . . . the bride was a red girl,
Her father and his friends sat near by crosslegged and dumbly smoking. . . . they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets hanging from their shoulders;
On a bank lounged the trapper. . . . he was dressed mostly in skins. . . . his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck,
One hand rested on his rifle. . . . the other hand held firmly the wrist of the red girl,
She had long eyelashes. . . . her head was bare. . . . her coarse straight locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reached to her feet.

Whitman used the scene that Miller portrayed as one of a series of vignettes that aimed to convey what was, for the poet, America's unique national identity. His scene of a white trapper and an Indian woman joined together in matrimony made literal the very process of cultural amalgamation that created the American people.[31] Although Whitman is an atypical contemporary of Miller's and his passage was a creative act unto itself, his poetic interpretation of the scene pointed to the extent to which Miller's painting, and his larger body of western subjects, could have been understood in its own time as speaking to the concerns of the nation. Certainly this has been the approach that scholars in the twentieth century and today have taken to Miller's work, and Whitman's passage is a testament to those studies' validity.

Historian Dawn Glanz, for instance, has argued that The Trapper's Bride pictures the peaceful amalgamation between Indian and white peoples that Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) had prophesied. On a broader level, she writes, the painting offers "one of the most trenchant visual statements of the theme of reconciling wilderness and civilization to be produced in American art during the nineteenth century."[32] Taking the same general approach, but reaching the opposite conclusion, a second scholar has argued that Miller's painting reveals the artist's pessimism about the prospects of reconciliation between American civilization and "savagery" when founded on interracial unions.[33]

Such scholarship addresses the work's significance on a national level, but what about the local? Other scholars have noted the provincialism of the artist himself following his return to Baltimore in 1842, but none have taken Miller's mileu as a starting point for interpreting his work.[34] Compared to artists like John Mix Stanley (1814-1872) and George Catlin, who traveled the country promoting their works before a national audience, Miller does appear to have been reclusive.[35] For the remainder of his career, he lived in or near his native city. He kept a studio in various locations in downtown Baltimore until his retirement in 1872 and sold and exhibited his work in the city almost exclusively. It is important to note, however, that Miller did, in fact, exhibit occasionally outside the city. Early in his career, he sent Old Master copies to exhibitions in Boston.[36] Following his return to Baltimore, he exhibited in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. Initially, he sent portraits and genre scenes to National Academy of Design shows, but the obvious popularity of western scenes shown at the American Art-Union prompted him to try exhibiting his western works as well.[37] From 1851 to 1852 he exhibited seven western scenes at the American Art-Union, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Metropolitan Mechanics Institute in Washington, D.C. He must have changed his mind about exhibiting western works, however, and returned to exhibiting genre scenes the few times he did submit works outside Baltimore after 1853.[38] Miller may have given up exhibiting outside Baltimore because he had relatively little success with sales, but it is also true that he did not need to leave Baltimore to promote his work. He had a loyal circle of students, colleagues, and patrons there. He joined the city's nascent art organizations and remained active in the Baltimore art community until late in his life. Miller was a founding member of the Maryland Academy of the Fine Arts (1838-39), the Maryland Art Association (1847), the Artists' Association of Baltimore (1855-58), and the Allston Association (1858-63). He also participated in the annual art exhibitions of the Maryland Historical Society (est. 1844).[39] In 1871, a local paper recorded Miller's attendance at the auction of a popular exhibition of Maryland art held by Butler, Perrigo and Way, Miller's dealer for nearly twenty years.[40] Perhaps more important, unlike Catlin and Stanley, Miller did not lack for patronage. On average, Miller earned about $2,000 per year selling portraits, western scenes, and a small number of Old Master copies, during a period when a middle-class clerk or artisan made $1,000 per year.[41] Beginning in 1848, Miller invested his proceeds in a number of banks and companies directed by his patrons, amassing a fortune of nearly $120,000 over his lifetime.[42]

In quoting these figures, I do not mean to equate Miller's financial success with artistic success or importance. My point is pragmatic; Miller achieved what so many artists -- Catlin and Stanley particularly come to mind -- then, as now, sought to achieve.[43] He supported himself and his family through painting. In Baltimore during the period he worked, this was no mean feat. His achievement suggests an artist who was particularly insightful in capturing and codifying the concerns of his patrons. As I hope the following chapters demonstrate, Miller's significance as an American artist stems less from the subject matter he portrayed than from his astute ability to make it relevant to the local or regional audience for whom he painted.

An example of Miller's acuity can be found in the 1845 The Trapper's Bride (see chapter 3, plate 1). In the painting, there is a light-gray horse striding in from the right. The animal has an arched neck, flaring nostrils (with a slight suggestion of breath exhaled), and ears that point steeply inward. It also has a slight dish-curve to the profile of its muzzle. An observation often made about Miller's western work is that he portrayed the herds of wild ponies he saw on the American prairie as dashing Arabians.[44] His Wild Horses (plate 12), executed as part of the set of eighty-seven watercolor and wash sketches he made for Stewart immediately following his return from the West, shows horses with the classic features of the sought-after breed. They have small muzzles, flared nostrils, dish-shaped facial profiles, curving necks, and inward pointing ears.[45]

Scholars have typically cited Miller's misrepresentation because it seems so readily to capture his fanciful, even fictitious, response to the whole of his western subject matter. But upon investigation, Miller's Arabians have other insights to offer. Historians of American horse breeding note that the wild horses that populated the Plains were descended from Arabian horses introduced to North America by the Spanish.[46] Although it is unlikely that the wild horses possessed all the characteristic physical traits of a purebred Arabian, they certainly would have possessed some. Perhaps more significant was American horse enthusiasts' belief that the western herds were populated by fine examples of Arabian-bred stock. Arabians were a desirable breed in antebellum America, particularly in Virginia and Maryland, where purebred Arabians could be bred into existing Thoroughbred lines to improve the performance of racehorses. Purebred Arabian stallions and mares had been imported from England since 1730, but they were still difficult to acquire in America before the Civil War. One of America's most reputable early sporting magazines, American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine, published in Baltimore from 1829 to 1838, contained numerous articles, illustrations, and bloodlines of famous Arabians.[47] The inaugural volume, for instance, carried a portrait of one of Europe's most famous examples of the breed, the Godolphin Arabian, which is believed to be one of three Arabian progenitors of all British and American Thoroughbreds (plate 13). In 1832-34 several articles written by an agent at Fort Gibson, in what is today Oklahoma, appeared in the journal extolling the virtues of wild horses captured by the Osages. These horses were said to be descended from Spanish Arabians and possessed several of their traits. They were "lofty, elegantly formed, active and durable." According to the author, the Shoshones valued mules above them and would sell them for a handful of beads. Unsurprisingly, the author had not yet succeeded in procuring one, but the letters he sent recorded his efforts to obtain a good example for interbreeding with Thoroughbreds.[48] The editor of the journal responded in an open letter asking, "What are the advantages . . . enjoyed by the desert or mountain steed of Arabia over ours of the prairies?"[49]

Beliefs about the superiority of wild horses that were descended from Arabians likely circulated among the Baltimore upper class, among whom horse racing was always a favorite sport.[50] Thoroughbred racing dated back to the eighteenth century, and Baltimore had at least one racetrack near the city throughout the century. At least one of Miller's patrons, William C. Wilson, was listed as a subscriber to the American Turf Register.[51] Robert Gilmor bred and raced horses, and one of Miller's patrons, Jacob Brandt, was an officer in the Maryland Jockey Club.[52] But it is also likely that Miller was acquainted with the journal and with the history and desirability of the Arabian breed. His sketchbooks, which contain numerous drawings of horses, indicate the artist himself had an interest in the animal. Whether or not Miller specifically knew the American Turf Register, the implication that some of his patrons believed (or wanted to believe) that fine horses of Arabian descent were present on the prairie suggests that Miller's motivation for his representational choice could have been as practical as it was romantic.

The issue of Miller's romanticism and its place in Miller scholarship is important in this study. Miller is widely understood to have been influenced by French romanticism. And he is also frequently described as a "romantic," one who is fanciful, imaginative, escapist, and prone to the sensational. For early scholars of Miller who valued the artist principally as a witness to the fur trade, his romanticism was a source of discomfort. In his widely acclaimed account of the Rocky Mountain fur trade, historian Bernard DeVoto introduced the artist as follows:

Mr. Alfred Jacob Miller was twenty-six years old and an artist, a Romantic painter who had had nearly two years of the brisk wind that was blowing through the studios of Paris and Rome. He had talked many nights away with Horace Vernet and his young men, at many cafés, in many ateliers. He had sat at the feet of Horace Greenough, had traveled to Rome with [Nathaniel Parker] Willis . . . , had abjectly worshiped Thorvaldsen. He had discussed the beautiful with all the young men. And he had made an impression too: in Paris they called him 'the American Raphael.' Conceivably that was a title not difficult to earn in 1833.[53]

DeVoto's condescension is palpable. Miller is tractable (blown by the brisk winds of European studies), sycophantic, a lover of beauty, and, in the end, not very good. DeVoto makes out what he can from the evidence Miller's paintings offer, but Miller's imaginative tendencies repeatedly threaten to distort and misrepresent: "Several times a band of broomtails, the runty wild horse of the plains . . . thunders by and makes our romantic gape with 'the beauty and symmetry of their forms' which didn't exist, and 'their wild spirited action, long sweeping manes and tails, variety of color, and fleetness of motion,' which did."[54] Significantly, it is the aesthetic, beautiful qualities of the horses that DeVoto discounts in favor of their more active ones. DeVoto also makes a point of correcting Miller on the subject of romance: "He found romance to paint, too, though he seems to have misunderstood some of it. If a sketch called 'Indian Elopement' is not made up, there was a runaway marriage at the rendezvous, but it must have been a wife-stealing and not, as Miller thought, an intertribal love story."[55] Miller's romantic or aesthetic sensibilities, DeVoto is quick to remind us, were not appropriately applied to their western material.

But it was just those qualities -- Miller's aesthetic sensibility, his romanticism, and his sentimentalism -- that made the works so resonant with his contemporaries. Putting aside the question of whether or not any western artist was capable of true, objective reportage, Miller's work seldom appears to have been promoted by the artist or contemporary critics as illustration. It is true that the artist, for the most part, reproduced a core group of images ostensibly based on field sketches rather than "inventing" new narrative scenes, a technique that would appear to privilege the authority of scenes witnessed in the field. He did not, however, conceive of his enterprise as scientific illustration, as George Catlin or Karl Bodmer did, nor did he include testimonials as to the accuracy of his accounts. Rather, at the very outset of his trip he compared the process of painting Native Americans to that of poets weaving verbal garlands out of flowers: "It's a new and wider field both for the poet and painter -- for if you can weave such beautiful garlands with the simplest flowers of nature -- what a subject her wild sons of the West present, intermixed with their legendary history."[56] In a similar vein, contemporary reviews complimented Miller's work not for its accuracy in illustrating western scenes, per se, but for capturing "'the very form and pressure' of the romantic and dangerous life led by these travelers."[57] Other reviewers considered the works on their artistic merits, praising Miller's draftsmanship, perspective, or mastery of equine anatomy or censuring him for the "glare of the Italian which he seems to imitate" in his coloring.[58]

Critics have not previously alluded to Miller's sentimentalism, but it forms a key feature of his work. The terms "sentiment," "sentimentalism," and "sentimental" have similar roots, but their historical meanings are distinct. In Scottish Enlightenment thought, sentiments, or feelings themselves, were theorized to be a sixth sense, akin to sight, hearing, and taste. According to the theory of sentimentalism, sentiments could serve as a natural or inborn guide to moral judgments. Genuine "sensibility," or the ability to feel sentiments easily or forcefully, was thus a key to the proper working of morality according to sentimentalism, as was "sympathy," the core sentiment that enabled humans to discern right or wrong in the treatment of others. British sentimental fiction, in its earliest incarnations, gave narrative voice to the philosophical theories of sentimentalism.[59] Novels such as Henry MacKenzie's The Man of Feeling (1771), Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), and Laurence Sterne's more ironic A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768) present parables of the power of sentiments to guide moral actions. The best of American sentimental fiction drew on the British sentimental tradition, not just in the conventional plots of the novel, but also on its theoretical Enlightenment underpinnings. Novels such as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), for instance, sought to understand the nature and sources of both human good and evil and found its answers in a belief of expressed or repressed innate moral senses.[60] Uncle Tom's Cabin's portrayal of great and public displays of emotion, however, has also been branded by critics today as "sentimental" in the more common parlance -- as excessively emotional and insincere in its seeming focus on the subject, rather than the objects, of pity. The worst of American sentimental fiction has been portrayed as sentimental in this latter sense of the word.[61]

In chronological terms, Miller was working in a period, roughly 1840-60, when a particularly dramatic brand of American sentimentalism held sway. Philosophically, however, he seems to have hewed closer to the earlier British form. He drew illustrations for British sentimental novels such as Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield and Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1767) and Sentimental Journey. In the spirit of Sterne, whose work stood on the edge of parodying the very form it embodied, a composition like Miller's The Trapper's Bride (see chapter 3, plates 1-4) explores the limits of sentiment as a guide to action. Others of Miller's late watercolors can also be interpreted as offering a critique of the female-dominated sentimentalism of antebellum America by presenting a masculinized sentimentalism that eschewed the strong, tearful reactions portrayed in, and presumably elicited from, American sentimental novels. Nevertheless, his treatment of American Indian subjects ultimately shares more with the work of Stowe insofar as his images are not a call for action on behalf of native peoples, but rather an invitation merely to sympathize with the foregone conclusion of their demise.

Miller's sentimental and romantic themes should not, of course, be viewed as obstacles to the content of his work, as DeVoto has suggested, nor should they be seen merely as an endorsement of the belief that his work was imaginative. Rather, these themes were constitutive to the works' meaning. In a period of Indian-white relations dominated by economic colonialism and government policies of removal, sentimental and romantic themes helped to conceptualize the artist and his patrons' relationship to Indian peoples in ostensibly positive terms. Taking for granted the gap between historical fact and Miller's fiction that haunts much pre- and some post-West as America scholarship on western art, I have located Miller's paintings more specifically within the nexus of relations between the artist, his patrons, and the relatively small, local audiences who would have seen them. How did Miller's images of the West suit his audiences' specific interests? And how did Miller's romantic and sentimental outlook help to negotiate the political and social gaps between subject matter, audience, and artist?

Chapter one explores the relationship between Miller's patron, William Drummond Stewart, and the works Miller prepared expressly for him following their trip. Stewart appears to have exerted a large influence over Miller's production immediately following their excursion, and Miller subsequently resided with Stewart in Scotland for two years while he completed some of his most important oils. The chapter examines Miller's paintings in the context of a collection of Native American material culture and North American plants and animals that Stewart brought back. Stewart's collection grew out of a sustained interest in Native American life that cannot be explained solely in terms of a generalized romantic fascination with so-called exotic cultures. Rather, his interest in Native American culture was more likely founded in beliefs about similarities between Native American and Scottish Highland cultures and was prompted, in turn, by a growing interest in Scottish cultural identity during the 1820s and 1830s. Comparisons between Highlanders and Indians were initially meant as criticisms of the Highland way of life, but changing attitudes toward so-called primitive man during the eighteenth century cast the comparison in a more flattering light. Eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, such as Adam Ferguson, argued that man's ideal state of civilization was in the middle -- not fully primitive but not so overrefined as to lose the essential physical senses and emotions that served as the foundation of morality.[62] Native American life may then have offered a kind of salutary primitivism, or a needed corrective to the supposed refinement of Scotland wrought by its increasing cultural incorporation into Great Britain.

The chapter concludes with a consideration of Miller's monumental history painting, An Attack by Crows . . . (see chapter 1, plate 9).[63] The work depicts an 1833 encounter between Stewart's party and a band of Crow Indians and is closely connected to Stewart's larger collection of Indian material, not only by its subject matter but also by Miller's inclusion in the scene of many of the Native American objects Stewart had collected. But the painting's narrative content also provides a conceptual link to the salutary primitivism articulated by the collection. According to Miller, the Crows believed they could only make war on Stewart's party if they incited him to strike the first blow, and the painting depicts Stewart's triumphant emotional restraint in the face of their provocation.[64] What is of key importance in the painting is not that it advocates the absence of emotion, but that it acknowledges the strong emotions inspired by the presence of Indians. Indeed, the power of Stewart's feelings is the measure of his self-control. Since scholars of sentimental literature have suggested that Scottish Enlightenment theories of sensibility provided one of the foundations for later literary sentimentalism in the United States, Attack by Crows provides an intellectual link between the notions of human development that Stewart's collection promoted and the sentimentalism of Miller's later Baltimore paintings.[65]

Stewart's embrace of salutary primitivism must be understood within the context of a second narrative of indigenous aristocracy that is present in the assembly of subjects in the sketch album. Chapter two discusses the significance of the subjects that Stewart selected from among the field sketches for inclusion in the album. Significantly, the images he chose show Stewart and Native Americans alike engaged in activities that constitute traditional aristocratic pursuits: big game hunting, deer stalking, horse racing, and archery competitions. In both content and style, these works establish parallels between Native American and Scottish aristocratic culture, suggesting that Stewart saw Native Americans as a kind of indigenous aristocracy. Highlanders were lauded for similar traits of honor, martial skill, and hospitality, and the images that show Stewart hunting and entertaining with Native Americans could make Stewart appear the more authentic Scotsman as well as aristocrat.

Notions of salutary primitivism and indigenous aristocracy might seem to be in conflict since aristocrats are generally assumed to be culturally refined, and it may well be that neither Stewart nor Miller recognized nor sought to resolve such contradictions. It is true, however, that the particular form of aristocracy depicted in the Stewart sketches was an older, martial form, which included activities such as hunting and warfare, rather than displays of cultured refinements such as etiquette or formal dress. It is also true that the period immediately preceding Stewart's trip saw the increasing incorporation of Scottish peers into the British (or English) aristocracy, so that the salutary primitivism of indigenous aristocrats could be understood as being a reinvigorating model for the overly Anglicized Scottish aristocrats as well. Scottish Enlightenment theories about the origins and development of political institutions also provided a possible foundation for a coherence of primitiveness and aristocracy.

Chapter three discusses Miller's return to Baltimore and his adaptation to the shift he underwent from aristocratic to commercial patronage. In particular, it focuses on changes in the production and meaning of one of Miller's most famous works, The Trapper's Bride, when painted in the environment of commercial Baltimore. Like so many other of Miller's paintings, The Trapper's Bride seems to focus on the emotional, rather than the commercial, aspects of the fur trade. But the painting's sentimental narrative could function as an idealized image of premodern trade practices and of Miller's merchant-patrons, who were frequently criticized by their contemporaries for their lack of sentiment. Travel writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries frequently cloaked the political and economic interests that their travel advanced in the language of sentimentalism.[66] In The Trapper's Bride, Miller's sentimental subject matter and style seem to serve a similar purpose, packaging economic conquest as true love.

The final chapter considers Miller's watercolors of the journey west, focusing primarily on his images of trappers gathered around the campfire. Despite the popularity of the trapper as a subject in antebellum American art and literature, Miller's trapper images appear to have been the least popular with his Baltimore patrons. This chapter explores the possibility that Miller's trapper images presented a vision of manhood that was at odds with the prevailing ideal embraced by his patrons. For most Americans today, the image of men seated by a campfire suggests self-reliance and physical strength, qualities that for decades have defined notions of American manhood. Ideas of antebellum masculinity, however, differed dramatically from those of the turn of the century. Miller's campfire scenes express a vision of sentimental manhood that contrasted with both the contemporary ideal of the active, financially successful, self-made man and the turn-of-the-century model of men "with the bark on." By portraying the trapper's campfire sentimentally, Miller participated in a wider effort of antebellum male authors to appropriate and use the female-dominated genre of sentimentalism for their own expressive purposes. In so doing, Miller associated established paragons of masculinity with traits of sentimentality that he, rather than his patrons, possessed.

The West has frequently served artists as a source for nostalgia or elegy. George Catlin, for instance, sought to preserve in his images what he believed was a dying Native American way of life, while Frederic Remington (1861-1909) and Charles Russell (1864-1926) used cowboys to lament changes in American society. But it is important to recognize that Miller's West was not only a place where older social forms could live again but a place that had the power to reform life back East. American Indians, as well as collections of their material culture, could reinvigorate an overly refined, increasingly Anglicized Scottish aristocracy; western markets could offer Baltimore merchants the opportunity to reimagine, if not participate in, older business practices; and the western setting could be used to construct a vision of masculinity that was sentimental, ruminative, and productive. The West of Charles Deas and William Tylee Ranney (1813-1857) was similarly seen by contemporary critics as having a restorative power-a power to restore older, artisanal forms of masculinity to increasingly effete American businessmen. But their images were considerably darker and more violent than Miller's halcyon images. In this sense, Miller's paintings presented a more positive, productive image of the West than did those of his contemporaries.

One final point: interpreting Miller's work within the narrower contexts of Scotland and Baltimore should in no way suggest that Miller's work did not deal with national concerns as well. Insofar as Miller's The Trapper's Bride offered the promise of expanded markets for Baltimore goods, it may be seen as participating in a larger national debate about westward expansion. Likewise, the paintings for the Stewart commission, although promoting a particular Highland, aristocratic view, can be understood in broader historical terms as offering an image of Scottish national identity. This poses an interesting question: How were such national issues experienced in specific milieus and, concomitantly, how did Miller's images participate in that experience? There has been much valuable scholarship in the past two decades on how western American art promoted American nationalist or expansionist ideologies. But what one scholar has said recently of American survey photography certainly holds true for painting as well: western American painting does not proceed "in lockstep conformity to an evolving national ideology."[67] We should expect to find regional, local, or personal variations. If the moment has come to bring finer distinctions to contextual studies of western American art, Miller offers us a timely opportunity to do so.[68] Indeed, localizing the context for Miller's paintings expands the scope of their meanings.

 

Notes

1. William R. Johnston, "The Early Years in Baltimore and Abroad," in Alfred Jacob Miller: Artist on the Oregon Trail, ed. Ron Tyler (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1982), 7. This catalogue provides the definitive biography of Miller as well as the history of the Stewart commission. Robert Gilmor also says Miller's father ran a grocery store in Market Square, verso of A.J.M. to Robert Gilmor, 13 October 1842, Dreer Collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania (microfilmed in Archives of American Art), P20, frame 522.

2. Decatur Miller Scrapbook, Vernon C. and Decatur Miller Collection, Baltimore; "Obituary of D._A. Miller," Baltimore Sun, 1 January 1891. Other tobacco merchants include William Sebastian Graff Baker (1835-1917) of William Baker and Co., tobacco merchants, Wood's Baltimore Directory (Baltimore: John W. Woods, 1860); Charles DeFord (1814-1858) of Charles D. DeFord & Co. Tobacco Commissions Merchants and Importers, and Patrick Henry Sullivan (1816­1874) of John Sullivan and Sons, Tobacco, The Baltimore Directory for 1845 (Baltimore: John Murphy), 1845.

3. Alfred Jacob Miller, Journal, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 85-87. Miller's Journal is a 130-page manuscript that bears the title "A.J. Miller, 1832." As William R. Johnston has noted, errors in dating and references to events that occurred as late as 1871 suggest that the manuscript was written late in Miller's life. See Johnston "Early Years," 7. The names Welsh, Carr, and Gill appear in Miller's Account Book, Library, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, as portrait patrons. Owen Gill, Miller's lifelong friend and patron, may be the Gill to whom he refers. For biographical information, see "Sudden Death from Heart Disease-Mr. Owen Gill," Baltimore Sun, 30 October 1874, 1, c. 7, and Margery Shapiro, A Short History of the Martin Gillet Tea Co. (Baltimore, May 1938 [pamphlet]), Maryland Historical Society.

4. Miller, Journal, 90.

5. Maud G. Early, Alfred J. Miller, Artist (Baltimore: privately published, 1894).

6. William R. Johnston, "Portrait of Mrs. Decatur Howard Miller," cat. no. 14, in Tyler, Artist on the Oregon Trail. Johnston has also conjectured in personal communication that Miller may have studied with, or studied, the Peales.

7. Gretchen Cooke discusses the possible influence of Vanderlyn in "On the Trail of Alfred Jacob Miller," Maryland Historical Magazine (Fall 2002): 323-24.

8. Johnston, "Early Years," 9-15.

9. Miller, Journal, 31, 34, 36.

10. Johnston, "Early Years," 12.

11. Carol Clark, "A Romantic Painter in the American West," in Tyler, Artist on the Oregon Trail, 47-64; Joan Carpenter Troccoli, Alfred Jacob Miller: Watercolors of the American West (Tulsa, Okla.: Thomas Gilcrease Museum Association, 1990), 12-16; and Dawn Glanz, How the West Was Drawn: American Art and the Settling of the Frontier (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982), 32.

12. Baltimore American, 8 December 1834, 3, col. 4.

13. Cooke, "On the Trail," 333.

14. Verso of A.J.M. to Robert Gilmor, 13 October 1842, Dreer Collection.

15. Cooke, "On the Trail," 333.

16. Miller, Journal, 61-64.

17. Ron Tyler, "Alfred Jacob Miller and Sir William Drummond Stewart," in Tyler, Artist on the Oregon Trail, 19-20; Miller, Journal, 54.

18. Miller, Journal, 54-57.

19. Matchett's Baltimore Directory (1829), 388, and (1833), 48, 304.

20. On the rendezvous, see Gordon B. Dodds, "The Fur Trade in the United States," in The Reader's Encyclopedia of the American West, ed. Howard R. Lamar (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co., 1977), 422­26.

21. Fred R. Gowans, Rocky Mountain Rendezvous: A History of the Fur Trade Rendezvous, 1825-1840 (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 191.

22. Bernard DeVoto, Across the Wide Missouri (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947), 309-10; William H. Goetzmann and William N. Goetzmann, The West of the Imagination (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1986), 61-63, 66.

23. Tyler, "Alfred Jacob Miller and Sir William Drummond Stewart," 35-36; Peter Hassrick, Introduction, in Tyler, Artist on the Oregon Trail, 3; Baltimore American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, 17 July 1838, 1.

24. Tyler, "Alfred Jacob Miller and Sir William Drummond Stewart," 36-37.

25. Augustus Greele to William Drummond Stewart, New York, 17 May 1839, Bundle 21, Box 101, Murthly Muniments, Scottish Record Office, Edinburgh, Scotland.

26. Miller painted at least four religious paintings for Stewart, none of which are located. See Tyler, Artist on the Oregon Trail, cat. nos. 867-76.

27. Alfred J. Miller to Decatur Howard Miller (hereafter A.J.M. to D.H.M.), 10 February 1842, Mae Reed and Clyde H. Porter Papers, 6142, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie (hereafter Porter Papers). The two were most likely introduced by Stewart, who wrote Catlin in 1839 telling him of Miller's work and pledging to see him when they were both in London. Sir William Drummond Stewart to George Catlin, New York, May 1839, Catlin Papers, Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution (Archives of American Art, Roll 2136, Frames 513-15).

28. At least one other artist, Edward Wellmore, portraitist, is listed as having a studio in the Law Buildings around the same time as Miller. Matchett's Baltimore Directory for 1842, 394.

29. For a description of the Law Buildings and their location, see their entry in the Passano Files, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.

30. Alexander Nemerov, "Doing the 'Old America'" in The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820-1920, ed. William H. Truettner (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 303­8.

31. Edgeley W. Todd appears to have been the first to note Whitman's reliance on Miller. "Indian Pictures and Two Whitman Poems," The Huntington Library Quarterly 19, no. 1 (November 1955): 1-11; Kenneth Price makes this argument in To Walt Whitman, America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 23-34.

32. Glanz, How the West Was Drawn, 37-41.

33. Susan Prendergast Schoelwer, "The Absent Other," in Discovered Lands, Invented Pasts: Transforming Visions of the American West, ed. Jules David Prown et al. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 146-54.

34. Early, Alfred J. Miller, Artist; Vernon Young, "The Emergence of American Painting," Art International, 20 September 1974, 14; William R. Johnston, "Back to Baltimore," in Tyler, Artist on the Oregon Trail, 65.

35. See Hassrick's discussion of Miller's contemporaries in Introduction, in Tyler, Artist on the Oregon Trail, 4-5.

36. Robert F. Perkins Jr., and William J. Glavin III, eds. The Boston Athenaeum Art Exhibition Index, 1827­74 (Boston: Library of the Boston Athenaeum, 1980), 98.

37. Mary Bartlett Cowdrey, National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, 1826-1860, 2 vols. (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1943), 2:24.

38. Mary Bartlett Cowdrey, American Academy of Fine Arts and American Art-Union, 1816-1852 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1953), 236; Anna Wells Rutledge, Cumulative Record of Exhibition Catalogues: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1807-1870 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1955), 142; Catalog of the First Annual Metropolitan Mechanics Institute Exhibition (Washington, D.C., 1853), 41.

39. See Linda Ann Thrift, "The Maryland Academy of the Fine Arts and the Promotion of the Arts in Baltimore, 1838-1839," Master's thesis, University of Maryland, 1996; Jean Jepson Page, "Notes on the Contributions of Francis Blackwell Mayer and His Family to the Cultural History of Maryland," Maryland Historical Magazine 76, no. 3 (September 1981): 224; Ottilie Sutro, "The Wednesday Club: A Brief Sketch from Authentic Sources," Maryland Historical Magazine 38, no. 1 (March 1943): 60-68. Anna Wells Rutledge, "Early Art Exhibitions of the Maryland Historical Society," Maryland Historical Magazine 42, no. 2 (June 1947): 124-36; Latrobe Weston, "Art and Artists in Baltimore," Maryland Historical Magazine 33, no. 3 (September 1938): 213-27.

40. Unidentified news clipping, 26 April 1871, Arthur J. Way Scrapbook, J. Hall Pleasants Papers Special Collections, MS 194, Box 13, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore; Weston, "Artists in Baltimore," 225­26; Miller, Account Book. In January of his last year, Miller's patron W.S.G. Baker submitted his copy of The Lost Greenhorn to a Charity Art Exhibition, in which one newspaper reported, "all of the Baltimore artists contribute." Baltimore American, 27 January 1874, 4, c. 2, 19 January 4, c. 2.

41. Miller, Account Book; Stuart M. Blumin, The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). According to Blumin in 1850 the average yearly wage for a skilled worker was $300 while a family's expenses averaged $500-$600, p. 110; he quotes Walt Whitman as saying a clerk made $1,000 per year in 1858.

42. "Last Will and Testament of Alfred Jacob Miller," Alfred Jacob Miller Estate Papers, M 3329-5, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.

43. On Catlin's and Stanley's struggles for patronage, see Brian W. Dippie, Catlin and His Contemporaries: The Politics of Patronage (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990).

44. See, for instance, Tyler, "Alfred Jacob Miller and Sir William Drummond Stewart," 34-35.

45. George H. Conn, The Arabian Horse in America (New York: A.S. Barnes and Company, 1957, 1972).

46. Ibid., 10.

47. Pegram Johnson III, "The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine: 'A Quaint and Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore,' Maryland Historical Magazine 89, no. 1 (Spring 1994): 5-9. The American Periodical Series online lists 510 hits for "Arabian" in American Turf Register.

48. "American Wild Horses," American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine 4, no. 1 (September 1832), 8; "On the Origin and Qualities of the Wild Horse of the Prairies of the South-West," 6, no. 2 (October 1834): 61-66; "On the Origin and Qualities of the Wild Horse of the Prairies of the South-West, part 2," 6, no. 3 (November 1834): 118-24.

49. J._S. Skinner, "Letter to Gen. Gratiot on the Importance of Procuring the Best Wild Stallion from our Prairies," American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine 5, no. 5 (January 1834): 1.

50. Thomas J. Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County from the Earliest Period to the Present Day: Including Biographical Sketches of Their Representative Men, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 2:848.

51. See the inside cover of vol. 8, no. 3 of American Turf Register.

52. Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County, 2:851.

53. DeVoto, Across the Wide Missouri, 307­8.

54. Ibid., 315.

55. Ibid., 324-25.

56. Alfred J. Miller to Brantz Mayer, Esq., Saint Louis, 23 April 1837, Brantz Mayer Papers, Special Collections, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore. Also reprinted in Robert Combs Warner, The Fort Laramie of Alfred Jacob Miller: A Catalogue of All the Known Illustrations of the First Fort Laramie (Laramie: University of Wyoming, 1979), 146.

57. "Romantic Expedition Across the Rocky Mountains," New York Weekly Herald, 11 May 1839, 149.

58. "Apollo Gallery-Original Paintings," New York Morning Herald, 16 May 1839, 2, c. 3; "Baltimore Artists," Baltimore Monument 2 (July 1838): 343.

59. My synopsis here relies heavily on Gregg Camfield, "The Moral Aesthetics of Sentimentality: A Missing Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," Nineteenth-Century Literature 43, no. 3 (December 1988): 323-27; June Howard, "What Is Sentimentality?" American Literary History 11, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 69-73.

60. Camfield, "The Moral Aesthetics of Sentimentality," 326-27.

61. Howard, "What Is Sentimentality?" 63, and Camfield, "The Moral Aesthetics of Sentimentality," 319-22.

62. Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society, ed. Duncan Forbes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1966).

63. Ron Tyler, Alfred Jacob Miller: Artist as Explorer: First Views of the American Frontier (Santa Fe: Gerald Peters Gallery, 1999), 9.

64. Alfred Jacob Miller in Marvin C. Ross, ed., The West of Alfred Jacob Miller (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968), pl. 179.

65. Elizabeth Barnes, States of Sympathy: Seduction and Democracy in the American Novel (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997); Fred Kaplan, Sacred Tears: Sentimentality in Victorian Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).

66. Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge, 1992).

67. Robin Kelsey, "Viewing the Archive: Timothy O'Sullivan's Photographs for the Wheeler Survey, 1871-1874," Art Bulletin 85, no. 4 (December 2003): 719.

68. Ibid., 719. Kelsey's view of O'Sullivan's photography is more situational and biographical than previous studies of the photographer. Kenneth Haltman's work on Raphaelle Peale and Samuel Seymour likewise interprets their works in historically specific and biographical terms. See Looking Close and Seeing Far: Samuel Seymour, Titian Ramsey Peale, and the Art of the Long Expedition, 1818-1823 (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2008).

 

About Lisa Strong

Lisa Strong received her PhD in Art History from Columbia University in 1998. In 2005, she was a Research Fellow at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Her other fellowships include a Lord Baltimore Fellowship, Maryland Historical Society (2004); a National Endowment for the Arts Postdoctoral Fellowship, Winterthur Library (2001); and a Davidson Family Fellowship from the Amon Carter Museum (2001). An independent scholar and author, Strong served as guest curator of the Carter's exhibition Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller (2008).

 

Resource Library editor's note:

The above text was reprinted in Resource Library on November 19, 2008, with permission of the Amon Carter Museum, which was granted to TFAO on the same date. To read more about the exhibition Sentimental Journey: The Art of Alfred Jacob Miller please click here.

Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to Tracy Greene of the Amon Carter Museum for her help concerning permissions for reprinting the above text.

Readers may also enjoy

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History. Individual pages in this catalogue will be amended as TFAO adds content, corrects errors and reorganizes sections for improved readability. Refreshing or reloading pages enables readers to view the latest updates.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Amon Carter Museum in Resource Library.


Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2008 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.