Lot 228
Very Rare Michael Miley Color Photograph, circa 1900
Lot Details & Additional Photographs
An early color image reproducing George Washington's 1772 oil portrait that hangs in the Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Virginia. Miley's print is behind glass in its original gilt wooden frame, the back of which carries an early typed label reading: "From the Lee Family Collection: George Washington, From a Portrait. Gold Leaf Frame." Below this is a somewhat later note taped to the backing that reads,"chromolithograph? No - original color photograph by Michael Miley / copy of the first known portrait of Washington painted by Charles Wilson Peale in 1772 wearing his uniform from the French and Indian War." This historic photograph is among the first successful color prints produced in the United States. Michael Miley (1841-1918) of Lexington, Virginia, launched his career with post-war portraits of General Robert E. Lee, becoming a highly successful and innovative photographer in his later years. A Miley exhibition article in the April, 1980 Washington & Lee University Alumni Magazine states that, "In the first years of the 20th century, Miley perfected a process of printing color photographs by superimposing separate single-color carbon images in each of the primary colors. He and his son, Henry, patented the technique in 1902 and in 1905 were awarded a Medal of Merit by the Franklin Institute." Miley's experiments with color photography favored still life arrangements and inanimate objects such as the Washington painting. Although black and white prints by Miley occasionally appear in the market, his color images seem to be largely institutional and thus unavailable to collectors. Print 9-1/4 x 7 in.; Frame 16-3/4 x 13-3/4 in.

Private Collection, Durham, North Carolina

Age toning and very light foxing to the mat; the print retains its vibrant color; browning to mat's verso; some scuffs and gilt losses to the frame.

$1,000 - 2,000