In 1858, Notman received a commission to document the building of the Victoria Bridge which would connect Quebec by rail to the eastern seaboard of the United States. In this photograph Notman has placed us almost dead centre on the tracks. The subject matter demanded a modern, industrial aesthetic, and Notman complied. The result is stark but not clinical. The shadows provide the slightest hint of the natural world in which this mammoth industrial construction rests. Notman must have had some assistance with his heaviest photo equipment, but for the most part he worked alone through the winter, often climbing or balancing to find the best angles for this picture.
William Notman’s Photographic Inventions
William Notman, Framework of Tube and Staging Looking In, Victoria Bridge, Montreal, 1859
Silver salts on paper mounted on card, albumen process, 23 x 28 cm, McCord Museum, Montreal