I-37457 | McGibbon group, Montreal, QC, 1869

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McGibbon group, Montreal, QC, 1869
William Notman (1826-1891)
1869, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
17 x 12 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  family (800) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Victorian men viewed their wives as a reflection and extension of their worth. This family portrait served to affirm Mr. McGibbon's financial success as a grocer and Mrs. McGibbon's domestic success as a wife and mother. Marriage signified maturity and respectability for a woman, but it was motherhood that was regarded as confirmation of female fulfilment. Motherhood was a social responsibility, a patriotic duty. Any uncertainty a young wife might have was answered in numerous domestic guides and advice books. The structured nature of Victorian society is reflected in such titles as How I Managed My Children from Infancy to Marriage (1865) and Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management (1861).

Eliza Warren, How I Managed My Children from Infancy to Marriage (London: Houlston and Wright, 1865) p. 7.

Isabella Mary Beeton, The Book of Household Management, With a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of All Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort (London: Samuel Beeton, 1861).

  • What

    Early photographs required the sitter to sit still for an extended period. This was difficult for children and near impossible for pets. This dog--actually stuffed--appears in a number of Notman photographs.

  • Where

    This photograph was taken at the Notman studio, where the McGibbons would have a choice of backdrops--chairs, domestic furnishings, ferns and "pets."

  • When

    This photograph was taken in 1869, before the family moved to Peel Street.

  • Who

    A Victorian woman was always seen in relation to others: as someone's daughter, sister, wife, mother or widow. The woman in this picture is known to us only as Mrs. Alexander McGibbon.