This watercolor for William T. Walters reverses the composition of the earlier sketch for Stewart and increases the number of figures. The diners now sit in the open air around what Miller tells us was a rubber cloth set with the best “block tin,” but no silverware other than knives.
Present in this image, as in the earlier sketch, is a group of Indians standing outside the circle of diners. The fur trade observed a strict ranking of workers, particularly at the fort during meal times. Company partners held the highest rank, followed by clerks, interpreters, hunters, and laborers. The partners and clerks were allowed to dine at the “first table,” while the hunters and laborers were seated at the “second table,” and dined on what remained. Miller refers to this practice in his accompanying note when he writes that, “Indians are looking on patiently, in order to be ready for the 2d table.”
This image is inscribed in ink with the number 33, which corresponds to note 33 in the Rough Draughts for Notes to Indian Sketches, as well as the preparatory sketch (CR# 92). The rough draft of the note mainly follows the text of the final version, but includes the boast that the company of 120 men was able to subsist in good health on meat and coffee alone, without carrying bread or even salt with them.
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift