Denver Art Museum and The Rocky Mountain Man

This is just one detail that illustrates the more rugged lifestyle that he lives. His clothing also shows that he is not a well-dressed, civilized man of the eastern states, but instead wears leather and rough cloth as well as a beaten hat in a mixture of white man’s fashion with more Indian-style garb. He is not dressed for comfort or good looks, but rather for utility and difficult terrain and weather. The emotion in the picture has two polar ends. The rider is relaxed and wears an expression of serene dismay and his gaze is drawn to some object of concern. His horse, in contrast, is in a position of motion and exhaustion. The horse’s visible eye is bloodshot and wide-open, and also focused on something to the left that seems to be alarming. To add to the scenario, the rider clutches a rifle in his right hand. The overall idea seems to be that his life is a struggle and that he lives dangerously. The painting is not so much detailed as blurred, and again suggests motion rather than stillness. Thus, Deas conveys an image of a man who lives on the go and is constantly looking over his shoulder while armed, representing the man of the Rocky Mountains and his daily life.