In comparison with earlier versions of this portrait, Miller’s sitter appears more youthful and effeminate in this studio watercolor created for William T. Walters. Si-roc-u-an-tua is here characterized by round cheeks and full lips, with hair in soft waves, and a dewy complexion. Depicted in three-quarters view, he gazes dreamily into the distance. The rosiness of his cheeks may suggest the use of vermilion which Miller purportedly gave the young man “to aid him in his toilet.” (Rough Draughts, 45) Vermilion, a powdered form of the mineral cinnabar, was historically used as blush for ladies and dandies alike.
Identified in related paintings as a young Chief among the Snake Indians, Si-roc-u-an-tua’s status is suggested not only by his polished appearance, but by his array of accessories, particularly the bear claw necklace slung low across his chest. Here, Miller uses white highlights to set off each claw of that “formidable brute,” the grizzly bear.
LR: AJMiller. 45.
The artist; William T. Walters, Baltimore, MD; present owner by gift