This image shares the same central grouping of figures as Interior of an Indian Lodge (CR# 93A), but Miller has added two more figures, moved the setting outdoors, and oriented the image horizontally rather than vertically. The horizontal format allies the image with landscape, and gives the scene a less-intimate quality. In contrast with the more public setting, however, the figures seem more withdrawn. Antoine looks toward, rather than at Stewart, and the man seated opposite Stewart looks down at his feet, rather than at the pipe. As a result of these changes, this image does not suggest that the men are engaged in a calumet ceremony, but rather that they are simply passing time together.
The principal figures in the watercolor are finely finished, but the women around the fire in the mid-ground are only lightly penciled in, one nearly obscured by a rubbed out area depicting smoke, the second covered partially by blades of grass. Behind them, Miller has rendered the landscape only in pencil. The unfinished quality of the image, along with its ownership by Miller’s descendants, suggests that this was a working sketch kept in his studio. It is possible that Miller planned to work the composition up into an image for the Walters commission, but then edited it out of the final set.
The artist; [?]; William R. Coe, Oyster Bay, MD; present owner by gift