In the summer of 1874 the 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount Earl (1841–1926) organised a hunting expedition through Canada to the American West. An account of his sometimes hazardous journey was published as ‘The Great Divide: Travels in the Upper Yellowstone in the Summer of 1874’ (1876). Included in his party was the young artist Valentine Bromley who, disenchanted by his companions’ pursuit of animals, and therefore something of a disappointment to his patron, particularly enjoyed a two-day visit to the Crow Agency, 30 miles from Fort Ellis, Montana, near the town of Bozeman, ‘sketching the busy domestic world of the Crow village with enthusiasm’.
On his return to England, these and other sketches were worked up as illustrations, many of them for Dunraven’s book, some for the ‘Illustrated London News’. Bromley also aimed to produce around 20 oil paintings for display at Dunraven’s home, Adare Manor, near Limerick, but died of smallpox in 1877, probably before completion of the group. This painting of a Crow healing ceremony may include some ‘props’ bought on the expedition or in England. The beaded bandoleer bag round the neck of the ‘Medicine Man’, for example, is American Great Lakes not Northern Plains.
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