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    Description

    Extraordinary Tintype Image of a Youthful Theodore Roosevelt with His First Wife Alice. This quarter-plate tintype measuring 3.25 x 5 inches depicts a young Theodore Roosevelt with his beloved first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee (1861-1884) during their engagement and while among friends and relatives on a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine in July 1880. Roosevelt is sitting on the ground in the center. Alice is in white to his left. At lease two of Alice's family members are also pictured, as are Roosevelt's closest friends from Harvard. Six people are holding tennis rackets. Tennis was one of Theodore Roosevelt's favorite sports, and as president, he installed the first tennis court on the grounds of the White House in 1902, enlisting his "Tennis Cabinet" to play on afternoons. Tennis was also instrumental in the courtship of his first love and wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. The photograph featuring Roosevelt's tennis party was discovered in a Maine estate. It likely passed through the Linzee family, who summered in Maine, as both Elizabeth Linzee and Marian Linzee Weld are pictured in the other tintype photographs, which were all found together. An amazing tintype of Theodore Roosevelt. See in our "Extended Description" section on our website more information about Roosevelt, Alice, and their friends.

    More Information: "I first saw her on October 18, 1878," Roosevelt wrote in memoriam of Alice, after her passing in 1884, "and loved her as soon as I saw her sweet, fair young face. We spent three years of happiness such as rarely comes to man or woman." That first encounter was at the Boston home of Richard Middlecott Saltonstall (1859-1891), a close friend of Roosevelt and cousin of Alice (he is the tallest standing figure in this photograph).

    In November 1878, Roosevelt wrote to his sister that he had driven out to Alice's home in Chestnut Hill and "gone out waking with Miss Rose Saltonstall and Miss Alice Lee." (Rose Lee Saltonstall (1861-1891), sits above Alice in the photograph). So began his ardent courtship of Alice, which would all but consume the young Roosevelt and distract him from his studies at Harvard. But Roosevelt would win her heart and marry Alice on October 27, 1880.

    The athletic Alice was a skilled tennis player and tournament winner, and Roosevelt recounted their time together on the court with fondness. In the spring of 1880, he was head over heels in love, writing in his journal "my cup of happiness is almost too full," and describing with satisfaction playing tennis almost every day, often with the Lees and his "queen" at Chestnut Hill. On one occasion, Roosevelt delayed a vacation to Maine to visit Boston and spent several days with Alice, attending a beach party, enjoying walks in the woods, and playing tennis. She was "so bewitchingly pretty" Roosevelt wrote, that he would continue north "only by heroic self-denial." Roosevelt had found a soulmate who shared his athleticism and their courtship played out on the tennis court.

    Roosevelt and his bank of tennis players were likely photographed during a trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, in July of 1880. He arrived in Bar Harbor on July 21 for a vacation of two weeks with Alice, Rose and Harvard classmate friends. Rose Saltonstall, Marian Linzee Weld, Richard Saltonstall, Christopher Minot Weld are pictured in the top row; in the lower row are Alice Hathaway Lee, Elizabeth Linzee (likely), Theodore Roosevelt, John Tebbets, and Harry B. Chapin. Five of Roosevelt's "Big Six" Harvard friends are pictured.

    Roosevelt's journal indicates they enjoyed games of tennis almost every day during their stay in Bar Harbor. On July 22, they went into town where they "played tennis, bowled, etc." This tintype photograph was likely taken at a Bar Harbor studio after an afternoon on the court. But given his sour look, one might conclude Roosevelt was enjoying himself too much. Shortly after this was taken, Roosevelt fell ill, writing on July 24 that we was "Rather laid up by the cholera morbus; so stayed in the house." It took him a week to recover, during which he wrote in his journal how much the group of friends pictured here meant to him.

    July 30: "I was pretty sick today, but it's worth while being sick to find out what perfect trumps my friends are. all the rest of "Big Six" (Sammy, Chip, Jack, Dick and Minot) took the best care of me. Above all my own best beloved darling, my purest queen, my sweetest Alice, acted the part of an ideal little wife...Was there ever a man as fortunate as I? I can hardly believe it. How I shall try to be worthy of her, and make her happy!" The following day, as Roosevelt recovered, Alice took first place in a ladies' tennis tournament.

    Theodore and Alice would marry in October, but their love story would be cut short just a few years later: Alice died after childbirth on February 14, 1884 at the age of 22.

    Images survive prior to his days as a congressman and sometime rancher in the 1880s. Our research uncovered but a single posed studio photo of TR with Alice, which is at the Houghton Library at Harvard University, and is a variant of this image. This remarkable, casually posed tennis photo is surely unique among Roosevelt images, and should be of great interest to historians.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2020
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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