N-0000.193.97.1-2 | Bottom of centre tube, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1859
Bottom of centre tube, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, QC, 1859
William Notman (1826-1891)
1859, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
7 x 14 cm
Gift of Mr. James Geoffrey Notman
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Architecture (8646) , bridge (558) , Construction (163) , Photograph (77678)
Keys to History
This stereoscopic view of the bottom of the centre tube of Victoria Bridge highlights the formal properties of this masterpiece of modern engineering. Opened in 1860, Victoria Bridge helped solve the transportation problems Montreal faced every winter when the St. Lawrence froze over. Construction of the railway bridge boosted the city's economy. This photograph is one of a huge number of stereoscopic views documenting the various stages in the construction of the bridge. Stereoscopy, highly popular at the time, produces an illusion of three dimensions. Queen Victoria showed interest in stereoscopic images at the Great Exhibition held in London in 1851. The photographs of the bridge taken using this binocular process are a kind of homage to her.
Originally intended for scientific observations, but soon adapted for popular entertainment, the stereoscope was hugely popular with modern photography fans.
William Notman's angle accentuates the perspective of this masterpiece of engineering. The dynamic representation is perfectly in keeping with the modernity of the architectural structure.
The rage for stereoscopy was partially due to the success the device found with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. Hundreds of views of the Crystal Palace were produced and sold.
This stereoscopic view by William Notman appears in an imposing portfolio that includes many other significant pictures of Canada. The portfolio, protected by a maple case, was presented to the Prince of Wales in 1859.