In the Eye of the Camera, 1840-1867
William Notman Studio, 17 Bleury Street, Montreal, QC, about 1875
Notman & Sandham
1870-1878, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Albumen process
25 x 20 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , Carriage (288) , Cityscape (3948) , commercial (1771) , Photograph (77678)
The Notman photography studio in Montreal can be seen in this picture. At the time, it was on Bleury Street. Notman had his head office here from 1856 to 1893.
Notman first set up his business in a small red-brick house having a rear annex that he turned into a studio.
When the annex burned down in July 1858, Notman replaced it with a building of the same size. Two years later, however, in the spring of 1860, he purchased two adjoining houses, two relatively new greystone buildings. These premises were to be the headquarters of the huge photography company that he would soon build up, and would remain so even after Notman's death.
Visitors had to go through a Greek-style portico bearing the inscription "Photographer to the Queen" before reaching a reception area that was nearly 23 m long by 10.5 m wide, taking up virtually the entire depth of the house. On the same floor, and extending from the reception areas, rooms that went right to the back of the house were reserved for colouring and copying.
In the mid-1860s, Notman did not have just one "taking room" (or studio, as we would say today), but three. The main studio, used for taking ordinary and group portraits, was in a spacious adjoining annex at the rear. A large-scale structure (15 m by 6 m), it could easily accommodate up to 50 people.
The other two studios, on the second floor of the main building, both had windows in the two opposite ends of the north wall, at the east and west corners. The older studio, built when Notman moved to the new house, was not as big as the one in the annex, but it was still fairly large (5.5 m by 10.5 m).
Keys to History
The portrait of Miss Pominville was taken here, at William Notman's photographic studio in Montreal. It was on Bleury Street near the corner of St. Antoine, on the east side of the road, right where the new Palais des Congrès convention centre is now. The offices and reception rooms are on the ground floor. On the top floor, you can see the big windows that allowed as much light as possible into the studio taking room.