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20th century, based on sketches made in 1837.. Oil on panel, 11 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches. Calligraphic title lower image. American carved and gilded wood frame. Fine condition. This colorful and lively painting of dangerous sport along the Oregon Trail depicts three mounted Indian warriors, armed with war club, spear, and bow and arrow, battling two towering and ferocious grizzly bears. Curiously, the Indians may not be enjoying a decided advantage. In a discussion of Albert Jacob Miller's numerous bear hunting pictures, western historian Ron Tyler points out that often the best way to kill a bear was to run it to death because "sometimes an arrow would not pierce him because of the thick, matted hair." An avid hunter himself, Miller produced many important paintings of traditional hunts for buffalo, elk, and bear; but he was also apparently something of an aficionado of the interspecies bloodsport illustrated here. In particular, Miller called bear fighting "dangerous sport" with "the greatest charm to reckless trapper and Indian." Miller's romantic sketches and paintings gave the world its first salient glimpse of the American interior West. In 1837 he was selected by Capt. William Drummond Stewart as artist to record an expedition up the Oregon Trail. His only duty was to sketch what interested him and, fortunately, his eye was for the wild and the unusual. The two hundred or so anecdotal sketches with which he returned served for the rest of his life as inspiration for a body of monumental western paintings that today are found in most major American art museums, including the Amon Carter Museum and the Thomas Gilcrease Museum. "Miller was a romantic painter of epic proportions [whose] works stunned sophisticated New Yorkers accustomed to the calmer canvases of Thomas Cole and his contemporaries. [Miller's paintings] represent a unique aesthetic and historical document...He compiled an unparalleled visual record...of the Indians of the West" - Tyler. "Indians Attacking Grizzly Bears" is a skilled interpretation of Albert Jacob Miller's exceptional sketches of hunting in the American West. Ron Tyler, ALFRED JACOB MILLER: ARTIST ON THE OREGON TRAIL (Amon Carter Museum, 1982), passim. Joan Carpenter Troccoli, ALFRED JACOB MILLER - WATERCOLORS OF THE AMERICAN WEST (Thomas Gilcrease Museum Association, 1990). Peggy and Harold Samuels, ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHICAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ARTISTS OF THE AMERICAN WEST (Garden City, 1972), p.324.
      [Bookseller: William Reese Company - Americana]
Last Found On: 2013-07-26           Check availability:      Biblio    


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