Painted on thin tissue mounted on thicker paper, this image may have originated as a tracing of CR# 459A, Receiving a Draught of Water from an Indian Girl, painted for Sir William Drummond Stewart. Miller had to have made either studies or copies of the Stewart sketches since he painted so many subsequent versions. This image is roughly identical in size and composition to Stewart’s, with torn corners and surface wear that suggest long use. Its smudged and unevenly-trimmed edges also indicate a working sketch. Thin pencil lines define the forms and are painted over with watercolor, as well as fortified with gouache and shiny strokes of gum Arabic.
There are a few small but significant differences between this and CR# 459A. The figure of Stewart in his white buckskin jacket has been replaced with a generic trapper, and, more significantly, two guns have been added. The butt of one is visible over the shoulder of the second male figure (identified as Pierre in the Parke-Bernet auction catalog) and the barrel of the second rests provocatively across the first trapper’s saddle, pointing directly at the face of the Indian woman. The transparency of the black watercolor reveals elements beneath; indicating that it was added after the initial composition had dried. A gun is very lightly sketched in pencil in the Walters version of this image (CR# 459E), raising the possibility that Miller added the gun to this version in 1858 – 1860 while working out the Walters image.
Signed LR: AJM. LL: Giving drink to a thirsty trapper. Verso: #102
The artist; [?]; William R. Coe, Oyster Bay, MD; present owner by gift