This black-and-white photograph shows two women in the doorway of a log cabin covered in snow. They are seen through a narrow opening in the snowdrift.

Mattie Gunterman

(La Crosse, Wisconsin, 1872 – Beaton, British Columbia, 1945)

 

Madeline (Mattie) Gunterman and Anne Willliams Looking out of the Doorway of Log Cabin at Snow

between 1902 and 1905

Gelatin dry plate negative

13 x 18 cm

Vancouver Public Library, VPL2260


Madeline (Mattie) Gunterman and Anne Willliams Looking out of the Doorway of Log Cabin at Snow is part of an unusual, playful and little-known body of photographic work. Mattie Gunterman and her friend Anne are shown from a high angle through a hole in a snowdrift. Like many of Gunterman’s self-portraits, the apparent simplicity of the image masks the ingenious staging and technical preparation behind it. Her photographs offer a view of Canada that differs strongly from the Romantic landscape paintings of the period.


Mattie Gunterman, born Ida Madeline Warner, learned photography from her uncle, Charles Warner, a commercial photographer in La Crosse, Wisconsin. In 1898, she and her husband, William Gunterman, settled in British Columbia, where they worked as cooks at the Nettie L mining camp. Her photographs deal with everyday pioneer life in the Canadian West, from the work of lumberjacks and cooks to afternoons spent swimming. These personal pictures, originally intended for family albums, are of great historical and cultural value.

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