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Image source: The Walters Art Museum | Licence: CC0 1.0
Image source: The Walters Art Museum | Licence: CC0 1.0

Rock of Independence


Alfred Jacob Miller

From the collection


Rock of Independence




"On approaching this famous land-mark, when within 10 miles of it, we were struck with its resemblance to a huge tortoise sprawling on the prairie;- this appearance lessening in proportion as we came nearer. We found it pomposed of granite or coarse porphyry, from 5 to 600 ft. in height, and in a prominent part were inscribed the names of the pioneers of the Rocky Mountains, among others the names of Sublette, Wyeth, Cambell, Bonneville, Pitcher, &c., many carved deep into the stone. The temptation was too strong not to add our own;- to make amends for this assumption, and show our zeal for others, we found a man by the cognomer of Nelson had carved his name, and to insure him immortality we added to it, 'Of the Nile!' 'Odds chisels and hammers' (as Bob Acres would say0, what a pity it is he will never know his benefactors.

When we first came in view of the Rock, Buffalo were feeding under its shadow, and the swift-footed Antelope bounding along so fleetly and so phantom like that we almost imagined them to embdy the spirit of departed Indians, again visiting their beautiful hunting grounds and scenes of former exploits." A.J. Miller, extracted from "The West of Alfred Jacob Miller" (1837).

In July 1858 William T. Walters commissioned 200 watercolors at twelve dollars apiece from Baltimore born artist Alfred Jacob Miller. These paintings were each accompanied by a descriptive text, and were delivered in installments over the next twenty-one months and ultimately were bound in three albums. Transcriptions of field-sketches drawn during the 1837 expedition that Miller had undertaken to the annual fur-trader's rendezvous in the Green River Valley (in what is now western Wyoming), these watercolors are a unique record of the closing years of the western fur trade.
(Released under the GNU Free Documentation License)
Medium: watercolor on paper.
Credit line: Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1858-1860.
For full details please visit the collection website.


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Turtle Rock, Wyoming, USA



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Image source: The Walters Art Museum

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