Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis Lee Cartes de Visite by Photographer Michael Miley. Both photographs bear an inscription by Lee's daughter, Mary. The first, measuring 2.25" x 3.5" (sight), General Lee is seen in an undated [circa 1868] oval, sepia toned portrait, in profile from the waist up. He is wearing a frock coat, vest, and bowtie. The verso bears the backstamp of Lexington, Virginia, photographer Michael Miley, known today as "General Lee's Photographer." "Gen. R.E. Lee" is written in an unknown hand on the verso, below which Lee's daughter Mary has written: "one of the very last pictures of him/ [signed] Mary Custis Lee." Below the general's image, also in an unknown hand, someone has written: "His dying look!"

    The second, a sepia toned photograph measuring 2.25" x 3.5" (sight), features an elder Mary Custis Lee sitting in a chair with a shawl wrapped around her shoulders, circa 1870. Backstamp of Michael Miley on the verso. An inscription on the verso by her daughter reads: "My Mother / Nov. 5 1873 [the date of Mrs. Lee's death] / Lexington / Virginia." The two images are matted and framed with photocopies of the verso sides to the overall size of 9.5" x 12.25".

    Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Randolph Custis were third cousins and married at Arlington House on June 30, 1831. Following the Civil War, the couple moved to Lexington. Michael Miley (1841-1918), known to the world as "General Lee's Photographer," is most famous for his postbellum photograph of the beloved southern general in uniform, astride his horse, Traveller. What is less recognized, however, is Miley's contribution to color photography. In 1895, using a carbon process that utilized carbon paper in fifteen different colors to produce an image in one color, Miley and his son, Henry, superimposed several images in each of the primary colors. Perfecting the technique, they produced what is recognized as the first color photograph in the United States. Their technique was patented in 1902.

    Condition: Spots of soiling at the side of Robert E Lee's head, as well as on his jacket and at the lower margin of the card. Minor toning and scratching on both. Else good.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 266

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 14 days left to consign to the 2020 June 6 Historic Flags, Including WWII Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage Auctions and Mr. Chad Reingold were...professional and courteous in all transactions and provided outstanding service in answering my many emails. I recommend them at the highest level.
    Killy M.,
    Melbourne Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search