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I-43390
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Mrs. R. Tait, Montreal, QC, 1869-70
William Notman (1826-1891)
1869-1870, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Wet collodion process
12 x 10 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-43390
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Marriage marked the beginning of a new stage in a woman's life, but how much really changed? In a formal wedding ceremony, a father hands over his daughter to her new husband. This was more than just a ritual: in marriage legal and customary authority over a woman literally passed from father to husband.

In 1886 wives were admonished not to interrupt their husbands with "foolish questions" while they were reading the newspaper: "Be patient and when he comes to anything he thinks you can comprehend perhaps he will read it to you."

Wives were expected to remain subservient to their husbands even in sexual matters. For example, a married woman could not legally refuse to have sexual relations with her husband, no matter what her reason might be. By law at least, a husband's wish was in many ways a wife's command.

Source : Straitlaced: Restrictions on Women [Web tour], by Elise Chenier, McGill University (see Links)

What:

This bridal portrait of Mrs. R. Tait is particularly interesting because of the way she holds her glove. According to European portraiture traditions, holding a glove either indicates a change of direction in one's life or specifically signifies one's married status.

Where:

This portrait of Mrs. R. Tait was taken in William Notman's Montreal studio.

When:

Mrs. R. Tait had her portrait taken in 1870.

Who:

Brides were often photographed alone.

© Musée McCord Museum