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earliest dated photograph of Mount Vernon

(GEORGE WASHINGTON & MOUNT VERNON.) Israel & Riddle, photographers. The Home of Washington, as it appeared May 14th 1859

Baltimore, H.E. Hoyt & Co., 1859

Salted paper print (5 ¼ x 7 ½ in., on publisher’s 8 ¼ x 10 ¼ inch mount with gold lithograph captions and decorative border. Neat punch holes in upper margin, ½ inch adhesion at lower right, faint pencil note in lower corner. Very good.

The earliest dated photograph of Mount Vernon, this is one of the very earliest known photographs of George Washington’s home.

By this time Mount Vernon was badly dilapidated. This view from the northeast shows ship masts propping up the portico’s sagging roof where several columns had rotted away. A man wearing a dark suit and top hat stands in the foreground, his arm on a white painted fence protecting a small tree.

The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, formed in 1853, purchased the mansion and estate from Washington’s descendant John Augustine Washington III for $200,000. After an intensive fund raising effort and protracted negotiations, the organization took possession on February 22, 1860, nearly one year after this photograph was made. Extensive renovations were soon made. As a result this image shows a number of architectural and landscape elements differing from those seen in photographs of the 1860s.

Rare. The other known examples are at the Fred W. Smith National Library at Mount Vernon and at the Getty Museum.