This watercolor, painted for Alexander Brown, differs in significant ways from the earlier version Miller painted for the William T. Walters commission. Here, the Indian woman is not presented encircled in a light blue oval, as in a sentimental portrait vignette, or cameo. Rather, she is placed standing in an outdoor setting. We see her figure from the waist up, rather than as a bust, and there are trees and mountains visible behind her. The result is a sketch which appears to have more specificity, and, as a result, to be less a figment of romantic imagination.
Miller’s accompanying note follows in the same spirit. Although most of Miller’s notes to the Brown sketches repeat his text for the Walters, this one is substantially different. Consisting of only two sentences, rather than a whole page, it dispenses with the romantic tale of Philipson and his hopeless pursuit of the woman. Nor does the note dwell on the woman’s beauty. Rather, Miller refers to her as a “specimen” that he selects as representative of the many Indians present at the rendezvous. This approach is in keeping with the more scientific or ethnographic tone Miller takes in the Brown collection.
LR: AJMiller Pt. LR on mat: No. 38./A Young Woman,/’Of the Flat Head Tribe.’
The artist; Alexander Brown, Liverpool, England, 1867; by descent to Mrs. J.B. Jardine, Chesterknowes, Scotland, 1946; present owner by gift