Carte-de-visite photograph of the General, facing right, wearing a suit, vest and tie, Signed, “R E Lee.” The sepia tone photograph measures 2 3/8 inches wide by 4 inches high. Stamped below the signature, “Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1866, by A. Gardner, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the District of Columbia.”
The Civil War was the first conflict extensively recorded in photographs. A. Gardner worked for Matthew Brady, a portrait photographer of national acclaim, first in his New York City studio, then in the Washington, D.C. one. As the war progressed, Brady shifted all his energy to documenting the horrific conflict. While most of his work, including his portraits, was on the Union side, he did photograph some of the luminaries of the South.
Robert E Lee was highly respected by both sides; President Lincoln had even wanted him to lead the Union forces before Lee decided that his place was with his native Virginia. After the war, he accepted the Presidency of Washington College (Washington and Lee) in Lexington, Virginia.
At the time, cartes-de-visites, these miniature portraits invented in France in the 1850’s, were all the vogue. It was common practice to acquire them, either by gift or purchase, and then to arrange to have them signed. A carte-de-visite of Robert E Lee would have been highly prized given the enduring reputation of the Confederate General.
Framed (in a decorative gold frame, with a light brown outer mat and a cream inner mat) dimensions: 8 inches wide by 10 inches high.
This item is associated with these categories in our inventory:
- Civil War