Rarely in the history of American art is there a story to match that of the Baltimore painter, Alfred Jacob Miller. Having, serendipitously in 1837, had the opportunity of a lifetime to visit the Far West before it had been extensively explored by Anglo adventurers, this young artist recorded an extraordinary scene, one that was well beyond the imaginings of fellow Americans and Europeans. His skills as a painter afforded him great success in that venture and turned his trip into a life-long occupation. While he initially served the whims of his patron, Scottish Captain William Drummond Stewart, he later in life cemented his national position as the painter of Indians, trappers and Rocky Mountain scenery of his generation.
In 2014 The Ricketts Art Foundation contacted two institutions, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Museum of the Mountain Man, both of whose focus and mission are to embrace, research and make manifest the art and history of the 19th century American West. Joining forces, these organizations have produced the world’s most extensive online collection of Miller’s western images, all taken from museum and library collections around the US and Canada. The website, which premiered in late 2016, has already enjoyed remarkable success both nationally and internationally. Featuring approximately 700 Miller images with seminal essays about almost every work, the site reveals the full picture of Miller’s talents, his expansive vision and his perceptive observational powers. He has virtually brought the history of the early West to life.