A Decor Unlike Any Other: The painted backgrounds

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Introduction I-575.1 I-1030 I-0.14.1 I-0.51.1 I-1005 I-1519.1 I-1619.1 I-1937.1


By the 1860s, Notman had not one but three "operating rooms" (or studios in modern parlance). The main studio, used for "ordinary portraits" and groups, was in a large annex attached to the premises behind. The room was also a storehouse for the wide variety of portable backgrounds, furniture and props used by Notman. A painted background showing a cosy library might be thought best for one customer, a seat by a parlour window for the next. Grecian or Roman pillars could be quickly brought in on command. Outdoor settings could as easily be simulated by rolling in the appropriate background and changing the props or furniture. An outdoor patio, forest dell, rustic stream or mountain landscape could all be had for the asking at a minute's notice. No two photographs were alike, and with Mr. Notman's artistic eye and deft adjustment of the furnishings and drapery, each patron was assured of a fresh and original scene and, most important, "a good likeness".