Miller’s watercolor shows the trappers in last minute preparations for their early morning departure. The stragglers rush to mount their houses and pull down their tents as the wagons fall into line. Most of the forty scenes selected for inclusion in the commission feature Indian subjects, rather than scenes of the fur trade. This one may have been included because of its focus on the caravan, a medium of the trans-American trade in which Brown’s international banking firm, Alexander Brown & Sons, invested.
As is the case with several of the watercolors completed for Alexander Brown, Miller has simplified the composition by bringing the main figures closer to the picture plane and reducing their number. Gone are many of the trappers, horses, and carts visible in the distance in the earlier versions. In turn, the remaining elements are rendered in greater detail, with more precision in the poses and movements.
LC: AJMiller Pt. LR on mat: No. 27./Breaking up Camp./At Sunrise
The artist; Alexander Brown, Liverpool, England, 1867; by descent to Mrs. J.B. Jardine, Chesterknowes, Scotland; present owner