Alfred Jacob Miller
(1810–1874)The Lost Greenhorn
oil on canvas
18 × 24 inches
signed lower rightThe Lost Greenhorn
is recorded in the Alfred Jacob Miller Catalogue Raisonné
as reference number 147I.
According to Western art historian Ron Tyler, “Few artists paint a picture that personifies their career as well as Alfred Jacob Miller’s The Lost Greenhorn
. Born in Baltimore and trained in Paris and Rome, Miller had spent only a few months in his New Orleans studio before being whisked away on a western adventure that he could hardly have dreamed of. He was, indeed, a greenhorn, completely at the mercy of his patron, Captain William Drummond Stewart. Fortunately, Stewart was a veteran of four previous trips to the American West and had experienced help from some of the most legendary trappers and hunters of the era. When Miller painted the expedition’s cook, John, lost on the prairie, he might well have been painting his own portrait for the title was an apt description of his only expedition to the Rocky Mountains.
“This picture had its origin in the fact that John, the English cook on the expedition, boasted of what he could accomplish on a buffalo hunt. ‘When anyone boasted,’ Miller said, ‘our captain … put them to the test.’ John was given the day off to prove his statements. He did not return to camp at the end of the day. When he was missing for a second day, Fitzpatrick, the caravan commander, sent the hunters out in different directions to try and find him. They brought back a crestfallen cook who told of being near death as he found himself in the path of a stampeding herd of buffaloes. He had lost his way and was nearly starved to death by the time the hunters found him.”
Arpad Antiques, Washington, D.C., 1959
Anslew Gallery, Norfolk, Virginia, 1970
Arthur J. Phelan, Jr., Chevy Chase, Maryland, 1970s
Private collection, by descent
EXHIBITEDAmerican West: Selected Works from the Collection of Arthur J. Phelan, Jr.
, Government Services Savings and Loan, Bethesda, Maryland, 1978The American West
, Longwood Fine Arts Center, Farmville, Virginia, 1979
Treasury Building, Washington, D.C., 1989-97
Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building, Washington, D.C., 1998
LITERATUREAmerican West: Selected Works from the Collection of Arthur J. Phelan, Jr.
, Government Services Savings and Loan, 1978, p. 20 The American West
, Longwood Fine Arts Center, 1979, pp. 12, 15, illustrated
Ron Tyler, Alfred Jacob Miller: Artist on the Oregon Trail
, Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, 1982, p. 249Alfred Jacob Miller: Artist as Explorer
, Gerald Peters Gallery, 1999, p. 129, illustratedView more information
As viewed through glass. Surface appears to be in excellent condition. Faint bar mark along the top of the painting. Canvas is lined.