Two identical women are having tea in a Victorian decor. The one on the left is pouring, while the other looks toward the viewer. Behind them, a third identical woman is reaching out of a picture frame to pour cream on the head of the woman at the right.

Hannah Maynard

(Bude, England, 1834 – Victoria 1918)


Tea Time

about 1893

Modern print from original glass negative

25.3 x 20.1 cm

Archives of the Royal British Columbia Museum,  F-02852

Photo: courtesy of the Royal British Columbia Museum

In Tea Time, Hannah Maynard offers an amusing take on the daily tea-time ritual of her era. She has used the multiple exposure technique to portray herself in three different positions. One of the self-portraits is reaching out of a picture frame to disrupt the decorous routine by emptying the cream pitcher onto the head of another, oblivious Maynard. This device pokes fun at the Victorian respectability implied by the decor and the women’s appearance. The absurdity of the scene prefigures the humorous depictions of Dada and Surrealist artists in the 20th century.

English-born Hannah Maynard immigrated to Canada in 1851. In 1862, after learning photography in Ontario, she opened her own studio in Victoria and had great success with her portraits of children and families. Around 1880, she began marketing her popular photomontages of children and other photographs across North America. Maynard also produced self-portraits that demonstrate the scope of her technical know-how, with a dash of humour. From 1897 to 1903, she served as the first official photographer of the Victoria Police Department.


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