“Nature has been lavish in her material in this scene,” Miller wrote of this watercolor in the late 1850s. “To the left huge masses of rock are piled one upon another lifting themselves skyward.” The artist used a series of light and dark diagonal outcroppings to animate the landscape and achieve the effect of depth in this work. He capped things off by revealing, in the furthest distance, a dazzling “region of eternal snow” (Ross, 161). It was a domain that at once invited men to enjoy and relish in its majestic countenance and then again diminished them by its sheer majesty.
Fremont, who sallied through these same mountains about five years after Miller, knew that only an artist could properly report their splendor. “Though these snow mountains are not the Alps,” he wrote in 1845, “they have their own character of grandeur and magnificence, and will doubtless find pens and pencils to do them justice” (Fremont, 1845, 74). Little did he know, it seems, that Miller had already embarked on that challenge.
Peter H. Hassrick
Signed LC: AJM
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift