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 AN ARTIST IN THE FUR TRADE - A little history lesson ...

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PostSubject: AN ARTIST IN THE FUR TRADE - A little history lesson ...   October 28th 2015, 7:04 am

A little history lesson ...

The question was asked at a national gathering of history buffs: "So which is the 'most authentic' the sketches or paintings from the Fur Trade period? " Many artists were mentioned but one stood out above those mentioned. This is the way such issues should be answered, not some off the top of ones head reply. Those type of replies should not even be mentioned.    Documentation; the term documentation - used as a field of study. what more can be said... At the time I was proud of this reply.
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Alfred Jacob Miller

Alfred Jacob Miller (January 2, 1810 – June 26, 1874) was an American painter and sketcher best known for his paintings concerning the northwestern United States.
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The paintings I referenced from The West of A. J. Miller, ed. by Marvin Ross, Univ. of Okla., 1968, are: 
 

p. 53  titled "Pierre", - p. 84 titled "Approaching Buffalo", and  p. 138 titled "Buffalo Turning on His Pursuers." 

From Across The Wide Missouri, by Bernard DeVoto, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1947, are: 
 

Plate XLII titled "Removing the Saddles,"  and  Plate LXXVIII titled "Bill Burrows" (Burrows is noted as being a sketch) (This Burrows sketch was also reproduced in the Winter 97 TL&R p. 18) 

I know there are some who place more stock in the authenticity of the sketches, versus the actual painting. I wonder if this is valid reasoning, and this is why: 

If you are making a field sketch, you are in a rush, therefore you may leave some minor details out of your field sketch for the sake of expediency, then at a later date include those details. Miller himself left us some basis for this line of thinking. Editor Marvin Ross in The West of A.J. Miller, notes on page XXI: 

"The number of these on-the-spot sketches is not known, although probably there were well over two hundred of them. Because of their lack of finish, they are comparatively easy to distinguish from the duplicates made in New Orleans, Scotland, and Baltimore. Mr. R. W. G. Vail has pointed out that the original sketch of a "Surround of Buffalo," now belonging to Mrs. Clyde Porter, has the notations, "More distance" and "Dust" written on it, notations which were carried out in a later water color (1840) of the same subjects now in the New-York Historical Society." 

So which is the "most authentic" the sketch or the painting?

This will always be talked about at rendezvous, around camp fires, historical history clubs studying the Fur Trade in North America and those that were there for years to come. Is there a real answer, who knows? Like so many unknowns you'll find when researching our forefathers past.

Not bragging, just showing you how deep and the amount of work involved when getting hooked on our history.

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