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© McCord Museum
Henry Sandham, Notman staff artist, posed for a composite, Montreal, QC, 1871
William Notman (1826-1891)
1871, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
12.7 x 17.78 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The spread of leisure pursuits in the mid-19th century gave rise to a paradox that has never been fully resolved. On the one hand, leisure was extolled as a source of human enrichment, a means of forming minds and forging character. On the other, the notion of promoting rest and relaxation continued to cause uneasiness. This was because the benefits of recreational activities were recognized concurrently with the emergence of new attitudes towards work. Industrial society was transforming work habits and instituting the concepts of punctuality, fixed schedules and productivity. Hence the dilemma: how could you simultaneously praise work and leisure, effort and relaxation, duty and pleasure? No real answer has ever been found, although there have been periodic attempts to mitigate this contradiction. Between 1840 and 1867, the solution was to promote "good" pastimes.


This photo was to be incorporated into a composite, or photomontage, which combines several separate images.


This photo was taken in a studio. The painted backdrop is an invented landscape.


The composite technique was developed in the 19th century and served to illustrate large-scale panoramas.


The epitome of idleness. City dwellers in the 19th-century were often described as idlers, leisurely strolling the streets, enjoying their free time.

© Musée McCord Museum