The American fur trade began in the 1500’s when Indians on the east coast traded pelts with the European cod fisherman for metal tools and weapons. Beaver pelts were sent to England and the hatters applied their trade. As demand for the beaver hat increased, the area of taking furs expanded until the fur business became the main industry of the entire North American continent. Formal companies and loose partnerships were formed that sent trapping expeditions exploring virtually the entire west. Most of these organizations were made up of 20 to 50 men. As they worked a new area, they divided into smaller groups to branch out. But almost never did they trap alone for danger was ever present and in numbers there was strength.
In my painting, I depict two members of an expedition headed for new trapping grounds. I chose to frame the scene with a powerful thunderhead because I felt it emphasized the vastness, awesome beauty and power of the wilderness they experienced. The men who chose this endeavor did not do so in hopes of great wealth, but to satisfy their desire for freedom, independence and adventure. They were not disappointed.