Pictured here, the Big Sandy River is a tributary of the Green River in Wyoming that runs west of the continental divide along the Wind River Mountain Range. Led by Tom Fitzpatrick, Miller’s caravan party forded the river at what is now referred to as Buckskin Crossing. Miller’s image, however, suggests a much larger body of water than the site of crossing, and probably depicts a nearby lake.
In this later work in the suite, Miller simplified both the foreground and the background, but embellished the figure, creating a more colorful and elaborate version of the initial drawing (CR# 413). This choice gives the work the more marked look of a genre painting. With heavier signifiers of native garb, including an embellished feather bonnet and trailer, a quiver of arrows, sumptuous dress, and a placid backdrop, Miller’s Indian figure embodies the exotic and proud—albeit subordinate and nonthreatening—native character that Eastern audiences could comfortably enjoy without threat or anxiety.
Emily C. Wilson
The artist; L. Vernon Miller; [M. Knoedler and Co., New York, NY 1949]; Thomas Gilcrease, Tulsa, OK; present owner by gift