#286. Merced River in the Yosemite Valley (?). 20 x 28, oil on canvas. "Gilbert Munger 1876" lower left.
The frame includes a plaque stating "The Colorado River -- Gilbert Munger." This painting is a near duplicate of the images in paintings #35 and #42. It was given by Frances Goll Mills in 1983 to the Saginaw (Michigan) Art Museum. The title was changed later by the museum to Merced River in the Yosemite Valley. The reason for the title change is unknown.
The previous Colorado River title, the date on the painting, and the ownership by a Mrs. Mills leads to speculation that this is the Munger painting of the same name and date that was in the Lyman A. Mills collection. That painting was included in "Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of Hon. Lyman A. Mills of Middlefield, Conn. at the Morgan Memorial, Hartford, Connecticut, beginning November 12th, 1923." However, no image or description of that painting is available. If Mrs. Mills turns out to be related to Lyman A. Mills, that will make this speculation more certain.
There are several painting by Albert Bierstadt that very closely resemble the three Munger paintings. They are also titled Merced River .... Gorden Hendricks in his book Albert Bierstadt -- Painter of the American West indicates that this title is incorrect. The Munger title is probably incorrect as well, based on the similarity to the Bierstadt paintings and the topography depicted. Munger is know for accurately depicting of landscapes and this painting looks nothing like Yosemite Valley. The Colorado River title is probably wrong as well, based on topography and Munger's know travels. Based on topography and known travels of Munger and Bierstadt, all of these paintings may depict the King's River in King's Canyon National Park.
Image provided by the Saginaw Art Museum.