Notman Historiography

The writer of the first, and virtually only, seminal scholarship on William Notman is Stanley G. Triggs, founding curator of the McCord museum in Montreal.   The McCord acquired the Notman archive, (600,000 images),  in 1935 when William Notman’s son sold the business to an American Film company.  As well as Triggs, there have been several pieces of journalism on Notman and an excellent thesis by Colleen Marie Skidmore.

The first book on William Notman was:  Harper, Russell and Stanley G. Triggs, Portrait of a Period, Montreal, McGill University Press, 1967.  This book contains a large number of Notman prints.  Triggs places Notman in historical context at the centre of the  19th century Montreal art scene.

Next came: Triggs, Stanley G., William Notman: The Stamp of a Studio, Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario and Coach House Press, 1985.  The book describes the numerous employees of the Notman atelier(s).  Outlining how the operation was organized and the functions of the key players.

Finally: Dodds, Gordon, Roger Hall and Stanley G. Triggs, The World of William Notman, Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1992.  The two editions of this book, one Canadian and one American,  focus on the multinational aspects of the Notman studio system.   At its peak, 19 out of 26 Notman studios were located  in the US.

Also written  by Triggs and not scholarship, per se,  are the large number of texts he wrote for the very difficult to navigate McCord museum website.  Nevertheless, Trigg’s material is well written and researched and user friendly for non-experts.

On the subject of women, an extremely well written  thesis.  The depth of research is admirable and the arguments are present logically and convincingly:

Women in Photography at the Notman Studio,
Montreal, 1856-1881
Colleen Marie Skidmore
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and
Research in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy
University of Albert

Department of Sociology
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
Edmonton, Alberta
Fa11 1999

There is a short biographical entry on Notman in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography XII (1891-1900). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.

And, some journalism:

  • Frosty Lens: William Notman and his Studio ~ r o ~ i18,61 -1876: l1 History of Photography 12  (January-March 1988): 23-30.
  • “How the Fabulous Mr. Notman Achieved the Impossible.” Maclean’s 70 (11 May 1957), 21-27.
  • A Maclean’s Album by William Notman and Yousuf Karsh.”  Maclean’s 71 (2 August 1958), 15-21.

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