I-9176 | Mr. Wood's sitting room, Montreal, QC, 1863

Mr. Wood's sitting room, Montreal, QC, 1863
William Notman (1826-1891)
1863, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
12 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , Photograph (77678) , residential (1255)
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Keys to History

If a woman's place was in the home, then a man's home was his castle. A wife was expected to "make her husband, whom she loves, a happy prince over the happiest domain" (Godey's Lady's Book, March 1850). To this end she was encouraged to create a masculine retreat within the domestic cocoon. It could simply be an armchair with hand-embroidered cushions and a footstool. It could also be a sitting room where a husband could read the "worldly" newspaper or even smoke. Mr. Wood has retreated to a relatively uncluttered room. He is wearing a pair of Berlin-work embroidered slippers.

  • What

    Mr. Wood's sitting room does not display the claustrophobic excesses associated with Victorian domestic interiors.

  • Where

    Unlike many of the photographs from this period in the Notman collection, this was not a studio picture. It was taken at Mr. Wood's home.

  • When

    Male domestic retreats in the 19th century often took the form of dens or smoking rooms.

  • Who

    The Victorian feminine aesthetic is hinted at in the patterned wallpaper, numerous framed pictures and glass domes covering precious objects.