A carte-de-visite photogaph of a wintery scene featuring Captain Harris of the Royal Engineers and his wife, taken at a studio of William Notman (1826-1891) in about 1865.
© Science & Society
This elaborately composed scene has been created in the studio using props, costumes and a painted backdrop. William McFarlane Notman was born in Scotland but emigrated to Canada in 1856. He opened a photographic studio in Montreal and later established a successful chain of studios across Canada with branches in Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. Notman was the official Canadian photographer to Queen Victoria (1819-1901). His work forms an unrivalled record of nineteenth century Canadian life, including portraits, landscapes and elaborate studio-based genre scenes of Native Amerians, hunters and trappers. A carte-de-visite is a photograph mounted on a piece of card the size of a formal visiting card of the 1850s - hence the name. The format was introduced by the French photographer Andre-Adolphe-Eugene Disdéri (1819-1889) in 1854.