Uncommon image of Lee in this iconic pose.
Robert E. Lee was an international celebrity during and after the Civil War. And like celebrities in every time, Lee’s picture became a collectible. Small carte-de-visite photographs were produced, in the South and the North, and sold as souvenirs. Many of the ones in the North were based on photographs taken from...
Robert E. Lee was an international celebrity during and after the Civil War. And like celebrities in every time, Lee’s picture became a collectible. Small carte-de-visite photographs were produced, in the South and the North, and sold as souvenirs. Many of the ones in the North were based on photographs taken from life by Mathew Brady. In the South, Lee was not merely a celebrity but a revered hero, and there was a great demand for photographs of him. He sat for photographers in Richmond, most notably for Minnis & Cowell in 1862, and John W. Davies and Julian Vannerson (of Vannerson and Jones), both in 1864. Davies’ portrait of Lee in dress uniform as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia was a favorite of both General and Mrs. Lee, and is easily recognized by Lee's closely cropped beard and drooping black tie. It became iconic, and this image is the way people recall Lee today. An albumen print of the photograph is in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, and is also featured on the cover of Faces of Discord: The Civil War Era at the National Portrait Gallery.
After the war Vannerson sold out to Davies, who by May 1868 ceased doing business as the Davies Gallery and changed the name to the Lee Gallery. During the interim, approximately January to April 1868, Davies used as a backstamp a light purple variant of the Virginia State Seal.
A CDV of the Davies 1864 photograph of Lee, with the purple Davies backstamp, signed by Lee. It is uncommon to see this picture of Lee signed, this one being our first.
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