Sir William Drummond Stewart was a baronet, a hereditary title which made him part of the aristocracy, although not part of the higher ranking peerage. While Stewart embraced the life of the fur trade while traveling in the West, Miller frequently depicts him engaged in activities which would also be appropriate for aristocrats, such as hunting and sports.
In this image, Stewart is prominently placed in the middle of contending parties of Delaware (or Leni-Lenape, a band of whom traveled West with the fur trade caravan in 1837) and the Snake (or Shoshone) who lived in the Wind River region. Stewart appears to play the role of mediator as he faces one party and gestures toward the other. Among the aristocracy, diplomacy was one of the professions considered acceptable for younger sons of aristocratic families. Indeed, one of Stewart’s younger brothers served briefly in that role.
Although the subject made for a distinctive composition, it may have been too idiosyncratic or specific to Stewart, as Miller did not repeat it in his later work.
UL: 28. UC: Reconciliation between Deleware [sic] and Snake Indians
The artist; Sir William Drummond Stewart, 1839; Frank Nichols Stewart, 1871; [Chapman’s, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1871]; Bonamy Mansell Power; willed to Edward Power, 1900; by descent to Major G.H. Power, Great Yarmouth, England, 1966; [Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, NY, 1966]; [Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York, NY]; present owner