The composition and figures in this work resemble the suite of works, Indians Pursuing an Elk (CR#374–374F), and offer a continuation on the theme of the hunt. Miller’s hunting scenes, set in lush landscapes like this one, routinely depict the thrill of the chase. These works were meant to “persuade viewers that this is soul-inspiring sport, a proclamation of life outside the boundaries of white civilization.” (Truettner, 109) Miller highlights the athleticism of the riders and their horses, whose exertion is evident in the tuft of hot white air blowing from its nostrils, as well as, the richness of Native hunting grounds.
By reinforcing the familiar, Miller softens the exotic nature of his subjects. His allusion to the imagery of sport, including hunting and steeplechase, is evident in the composition and movement of the riders and their horses. Routes that ran along the North Platte and Sweetwater Rivers, encompassing lands like the ones depicted here, became main corridors of travel for trappers, traders, and later, settlers along the Oregon Trail. For Eastern audiences, landscapes and scenes such as this one would only be increasingly viewed as territory for white settlement.
Emily C. Wilson
LC: Miller 1865
The artist; by descent to L. Vernon Miller, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift