Mary Anna Randolph Custis
Original Author: Auguste Hervieu
Created: 1830
Medium: Oil on canvas
Publisher: Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial

Mary Anna Randolph Custis

Mary Anna Randolph Custis holds a parrot in this 1830 oil portrait by Auguste Hervieu. The painting was done shortly before her marriage to her distant cousin and childhood playmate Robert E. Lee. "Never was I more surrounded with the joys of life than at this time," Custis wrote to a friend. "I am engaged to one to whom I have long been attached—Robert Lee."

Hervieu, a French painter and illustrator, accompanied English author Frances Trollope and her family during their travels in the United States from 1827 to 1831. While abroad, Hervieu's painting commissions helped support the Trollope family, who had fallen upon hard financial times. The artist illustrated Trollope's popular book entitled Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832), which poked fun at American mores.