14 Sep 2012

Notman - Composite

Notman - Composite reproduction, continued

In broad strokes, the entrepreneurial Scott settled in Canada, impressed Queen Victoria with some photographic (after all, at the time it was a novelty) gifts in the theme of Canadiana and became "Photographer to the Queen". Over time he formed several highly successful businesses and partnerships. His favourable reputation was growing.
With ample financial resources, equipment and a "stable" of photographers whom he trained himself Notman has elevated himself to a position of a Photographer to the Establishment. He became the Establishment.

I was once asked to reproduce the work of Notman from the collection of the Geological Society of Canada. It was one of his composites representing the directorate and prominent member of the GSC, a predecessor to the National Resources (NRCan), the important department of the Government of Canada.

First-time encounter with the proto-analog Photoshop!

By the way, I do own a licensed version of this
Shutterstock image, but it's large and I am rushing,
so here is a small thingy to illustrate my thought...
At a distance the work resembles an older, sepia-toned photograph, but soon the nature of its painted background and the quirky perspective of the poses and visible retouches to the edges of the photographic segments unveils more of its origin and methodology.

Obviously, Mr. Notman's studio was asked to produce a document of the certain group of members. Unable to secure the presence of all his models at once he devised a method that would keep them all present, nicely composed and "looking presentably" regardless of anybody's schedule.
The collected photographs of individual members
were arranged them in a more-or-less realistic
scale and perspective and collaged, cutting around
like paper dolls.


But what it actually was looked like this:

Notman's idea of collaging the group composition from individual photographs was backed with a gouache painted interior.

Film about the art of photo-collaging before the end of the 19th century:
Video Clip on Collaging

Another Composite is shown here: Duncan drawing room group

For more information on W. Notman's work, see this: http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/keys/virtualexhibits/notmanstudio/ 

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