Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge
Optic Projection fig 411.jpg
Muybridge in 1899
Edward James Muggeridge

(1830-04-09)9 April 1830
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Died8 May 1904(1904-05-08) (aged 74)
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Resting placeWoking, Surrey, England
Known forPhotography
Notable work
The Horse in Motion
Patron(s)Leland Stanford
Muybridge's childhood home in Kingston upon Thames

Eadweard Muybridge (/ˌɛdwərd ˈmbrɪ/; 9 April 1830 – 8 May 1904, born Edward James Muggeridge) was an English photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion, and early work in motion-picture projection. He adopted the first name Eadweard as the original Anglo-Saxon form of Edward, and the surname Muybridge, believing it to be similarly archaic.[1]

Born in Kingston upon Thames in the United Kingdom, at age 20 he emigrated to America as a bookseller, first to New York City, and then to San Francisco. Planning a return trip to Europe in 1860, he suffered serious head injuries in a stagecoach crash in Texas.[2] He spent the next few years recuperating in Kingston upon Thames, where he took up professional photography, learning the wet-plate collodion process, and secured at least two British patents for his inventions.[2] He went back to San Francisco in 1867. In 1868 he exhibited large photographs of Yosemite Valley, which made him world-famous.

In 1874 Muybridge shot and killed Major Harry Larkyns, his wife's lover, but was acquitted in a jury trial on the grounds of justifiable homicide.[3] In 1875 he travelled for more than a year in Central America on a photographic expedition.

Today, Muybridge is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion in 1877 and 1878, which used multiple cameras to capture motion in stop-motion photographs, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip used in cinematography.[4] In the 1880s, he entered a very productive period at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, producing over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion, capturing what the human eye could not distinguish as separate movements.

During his later years, Muybridge gave many public lectures and demonstrations of his photography and early motion picture sequences, returning frequently to England and Europe to publicise his work. He also edited and published compilations of his work, which greatly influenced visual artists and the developing fields of scientific and industrial photography. He returned to his native England permanently in 1894. In 1904, Kingston Museum was opened in his hometown and continues to house a collection of his works to this day in a dedicated 'Muybridge Exhibition'.


Edward James Muggeridge was born and raised in England. Muggeridge changed his name several times, starting with "Muggridge". From 1855 to 1865, he mainly used the surname "Muygridge".[5]

From 1865 onward, he used the surname "Muybridge".

In addition, he used the pseudonym Helios (Titan of the sun) for his early photography. He also used this as the name of his studio and gave it to his only son, as a middle name: Florado Helios Muybridge, born in 1874.[6]

While travelling in 1875 on a photography expedition in the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, the photographer advertised his works under the name "Eduardo Santiago Muybridge" in Guatemala.[7]

After an 1882 trip to England, he changed the spelling of his first name to "Eadweard", the Old English form of his name. The spelling was probably derived from the spelling of King Edward's Christian name as shown on the plinth of the Kingston coronation stone, which had been re-erected in 1850 in his town, 100 yards from Muybridge's childhood family home. He used "Eadweard Muybridge" for the rest of his career.[5][8]

Others frequently misspelled his surname as "Maybridge", "Moybridge" or "Mybridge".[9] His gravestone carries his name as "Eadweard Maybridge".[10]

1830–1860: Early life and career in book business

Edward James Muggeridge was born in Kingston upon Thames,[11] in the county of Surrey in England (now Greater London), on 9 April 1830 to John and Susanna Muggeridge; he had three brothers. His father was a grain and coal merchant, with business spaces on the ground floor of their house adjacent to the River Thames at No. 30 High Street. The family lived in the rooms above.[12] After his father died in 1843, his mother carried on the business. His younger cousins Norman Selfe (1839–1911) and Maybanke Anderson (née Selfe; 1845–1927), also spent part of their childhood in Kingston upon Thames. They moved to Australia and Norman, following a family tradition, became a renowned engineer, while Maybanke made fame as a suffragette.[13] His great grandparents were Robert Muggeridge and Hannah Charman, who owned a farm. Their oldest son John Muggeridge (1756–1819) was Edward's grandfather; he was a stationer who taught Edward the business. Several uncles and cousins, including Henry Muggeridge (Sheriff of London), were corn merchants in the City of London. All were born in Banstead, Surrey. Edward's younger brother George, born in 1833, lived with their uncle Samuel in 1851, after the death of their father in 1843.

Muggridge emigrated to the United States at the age of 20, arriving in New York City.[14] Here, he was possibly a partner in the book business enterprise Muygridge & Bartlett together with a medicine student, which existed for about a year.[15]

Muygridge arrived in New Orleans in January 1855,[16] and was registered there as a book agent by April.[17]

Muygridge probably arrived in California around the autumn of 1855,[18] when it had not yet been a state for more than five years. He visited Sacramento as an agent selling illustrated Shakespeare books in April 1856,[19] and soon after settled at 113 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.[20] From this address he sold books and art (mostly prints), in a city that was still the booming "capital of the Gold Rush" in the "Wild West". There were already 40 bookstores and a dozen photography studios in town,[21] and he even shared his address with a photo gallery, right next to another bookstore.[22] He shortly partnered with W.H. Oakes as engraver and publisher of lithograph prints.[23][24] and still functioned as a book agent for the London Printing and Publishing Company.[25]

In April 1858, Muygridge moved his store to 163 Clay Street, where his friend Silas Selleck had a photo gallery.[26] Muygridge was a member of the Mechanic's Institute of the City of San Francisco.[27] In 1859, he was elected as one of the directors for the San Francisco Mercantile Library Association.[28]

Muygridge offered original landscape photography by Carleton Watkins,[29] as well as photographic copies of paintings. It remains uncertain whether or not Muygridge personally made such copies,[30] or familiarized himself with photographic techniques in any fashion before 1860, although Muybridge claimed in 1881 that he "came to California in 1855, and most of the time since and all of the time since 1860 (...) had been diligently, and at the same time studiously, been engaged in photography."[31]

Edward's brother George Muygridge came to San Francisco in 1858 but died of tuberculosis soon after. Their youngest brother Thomas S. Muygridge arrived in 1859, and it soon became clear that Edward planned to stop with his bookstore business.[26] On 15 May 1860, Edward published a special announcement in the Bulletin newspaper: "I have this day sold to my brother, Thomas S. Muygridge, my entire stock of Books, Engravings, etc.(...) I shall on 5th June leave for New York, London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Vienna, etc." Although he altered his plans, he eventually took a cross-country stagecoach on 2 July to catch a ship in New York.[26]

1860–1866: Serious accident, recuperation, early patents and short career as venture capitalist

In July 1860, Muybridge suffered a head injury in a violent runaway stagecoach crash at the Texas border, which killed the driver and one passenger, and badly injured every other passenger on board. Muybridge was bodily ejected from the vehicle and hit his head on a rock or other hard object. He woke up in a hospital bed at Fort Smith, Arkansas, with no recollection of the nine days after he had taken supper at a wayside cabin 150 miles (240 km) away, not long before the accident. He suffered from a bad headache, double vision, deafness, loss of taste and smell, and confusion. It was later claimed that his hair turned from brown to grey in three days.[18] The problems persisted fully for three months and to a lesser extent for a year.[32] Muybridge was treated at Fort Smith for three weeks before he went to a doctor in New York. He fled the noise of the city and stayed in the countryside. He then went back to New York for six weeks and sued the stage company, which earned him a $2,500 compensation. Eventually, he felt well enough to travel to England, where he received medical care from Sir William Gull and was prescribed abstinence of meat, alcohol and coffee for over a year.[33]

Muybridge stayed with his mother in Kennington and later with his aunt while in England.[26] Muybridge later stated that he had become a photographer at the suggestion of Gull.[2] However, while outdoors photography might have helped in getting some fresh air, dragging around heavy equipment and working with chemicals in a dark room did not comply with the prescriptions for rest that Gull preferred to offer.[34]

Arthur P. Shimamura, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has speculated that Muybridge suffered substantial injuries to the orbitofrontal cortex that probably also extended into the anterior temporal lobes, which may have led to some of the emotional, eccentric behavior reported by friends in later years, as well as freeing his creativity from conventional social inhibitions. Today, there is still little effective treatment for this kind of injury.[2][35]

On 28 September 1860, "E. Muggeridge, of New York" applied for British patent no. 2352 for "An improved method of, and apparatus for, plate printing" via London solicitor August Frederick Sheppard.[36]

On 1 August 1861, Muygridge received British patent no. 1914 for "Improvements in machinery or apparatus for washing clothes and other textile articles."[37] On 28 October the French version of this patent was registered.[38] He wrote a letter to his uncle Henry, who had emigrated to Sydney, with details of the patents and mentioned having to visit Europe for business for several months. Muygridge's inventions (or rather: improved machinery) were demonstrated at the 1862 International Exhibition.[26]

Muybridge's activities and whereabouts between 1862 and 1865 are not very well documented. He turned up in Paris in 1862 and again in 1864. In 1865 he was one of the directors for the Austin Consolidated Silver Mines Company (limited) and for The Ottoman Company (limited)/The Bank of Turkey (limited), under his new name "Muybridge". Both enterprises were very short-lived due to a banking crisis, and Muybridge chaired the meetings in which the companies were dissolved during the spring of 1866.[26]

Muybridge may have taken up photography sometime between 1861 and 1866.[35] He possibly learned the wet-plate collodion process in England, and was possibly influenced by some of well-known English photographers of those years, such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll and Roger Fenton. However, it remains unclear how much he had already learned before the accident and how much he may have learned after his return to the United States.[39][40][41]

1867–1873: Career as Helios, photographing the American West

Photo of Vernal Falls at Yosemite by Eadweard Muybridge, 1872

Muybridge returned to San Francisco on 13 February 1867[9] a changed man. Reportedly his hair had turned from black to grey within three days after his 1860 accident.[2] Friends and associates later stated that he had changed from a smart and pleasant businessman into an eccentric artist. He was much more careless about his appearance, was easily agitated, could suddenly take objection to people, and soon after act like nothing had happened and he would regularly misstate previously arranged business deals. His care about whether he judged something to be beautiful had become much stronger than his care for money; he easily refused payment if a customer seemed to be slightly critical of his work. Photographer Silas Selleck, who knew Muybridge from New York since circa 1852 and had been a close friend since 1855, claimed that he could hardly recognize Muybridge after his return.[42]

Muybridge converted a lightweight two-wheel, one-horse carriage into a portable darkroom to carry out his work,[39] and with a logo on the back dubbed it "Helios' Flying Studio". He had acquired highly proficient technical skills and an artist's eye and became very successful in photography, focusing principally on landscape and architectural subjects. An 1868 advertisement stated a wider scope of subjects: "Helios is prepared to accept commissions to photograph Private Residences, Ranches, Mills, Views, Animals, Ships, etc., anywhere in the city, or any portion of the Pacific Coast. Architects', Surveyors' and Engineers' Drawings copied mathematically correct. Photographic copies of Paintings and Works of Art."[43]

San Francisco views

Helios produced over 400 different stereograph cards, initially sold through Seleck's Cosmopolitan Gallery at 415 Montgomery Street, and later through other distributors, such as Bradley & Rulofson. Many of these cards showed views of San Francisco and its surroundings.[26] Stereo cards were extremely popular at the time and thus could be sold in large quantities for a very low price, to tourists as a souvenir, or to proud citizens and collectors.

Early in his new career, Muybridge was hired by Robert B. Woodward (1824–1879) to take extensive photos of his Woodward's Gardens, a combination amusement park, zoo, museum, and aquarium that had opened in San Francisco in 1866.[44]

Muybridge took pictures of ruins after the 21 October 1868 Hayward earthquake.[26]

During the construction of the San Francisco Mint in 1870–1872, Muybridge made a series of images of the building's progress, documenting changes over time in a fashion similar to time-lapse photography.[45][46]


Albumen silver print photograph of Muybridge in 1867 at base of the Ulysses S. Grant tree "71 Feet in Circumference" in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite, by Carleton Watkins

From June to November 1867, Muybridge visited Yosemite Valley[47] He took enormous safety risks to make his photographs, using a heavy view camera and stacks of glass plate negatives. A stereograph he published in 1872 shows him sitting casually on a projecting rock over the Yosemite Valley, with 2,000 feet (610 m) of empty space yawning below him.[2] He returned with numerous stereoscopic views and larger plates. He selected 20 pictures to be retouched and manipulated for a subscription series that he announced in February 1868.[48] Twenty original photographs (possibly the same) were used to illustrate John S. Hittel's guide book Yosemite: Its Wonders and Its Beauties (1868).[49]

Some of the pictures were taken of the same scenes shot by his contemporary Carleton Watkins. Muybridge's photographs showed the grandeur and expansiveness of the West; if human figures were portrayed, they were dwarfed by their surroundings, as in Chinese landscape paintings.[50]

Government commissions

In 1868, Muybridge was commissioned by the US government to travel to the newly acquired US territory of Alaska to photograph the Tlingit Native Americans, occasional Russian inhabitants, and dramatic landscapes.[51]: 242  In 1871, the Lighthouse Board hired Muybridge to photograph lighthouses of the American West Coast. From March to July, he traveled aboard the Lighthouse Tender Shubrick to document these structures.[52] In 1873, Muybridge was commissioned by the US Army to photograph the Modoc War being conducted by the Native American tribe of northern California and Oregon. Many of his stereoscopic photos were published widely, and can still be found today.[51]: 46 

1872–1879: Stanford and horse gaits

Muybridge's The Horse in Motion, 1878
Animated gif from frame 1 to 11 of The Horse in Motion."Sallie Gardner", owned by Leland Stanford, running at a 1:40 pace over the Palo Alto track, 19 June 1878

In 1872, the former governor of California, Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, hired Muybridge for a portfolio depicting his mansion and other possessions, including his racehorse Occident.

Stanford also wanted a proper picture of the horse at full speed and was frustrated that the existing depictions and descriptions seemed incorrect. The human eye could not fully break down the action at the quick gaits of the trot and gallop. Up until this time, most artists painted horses at a trot with one foot always on the ground; and at a full gallop with the front legs extended forward and the hind legs extended to the rear, and all feet off the ground.[53] Muybridge eventually managed to shoot a small and very fuzzy picture of Occident running in 1873. They agreed it lacked quality, but Stanford was excited to finally have a reliable depiction of a running horse. No copy of the image has yet resurfaced. Muybridge promised to study better solutions.

In July 1877, Muybridge made a new picture of Occident at full speed, with improved techniques and a much clearer result. To enhance the still fuzzy picture, it was recreated by a retouch artist and published as a cabinet card. The news about this breakthrough in instantaneous photography was spread enthusiastically, but several critics believed the heavily manipulated image could not be a truthful depiction of the horse. Muybridge allowed reporters to study the original negative, but as he and Stanford were planning a new project that would convince everyone, they saw no need to prove that this image was authentic. The original negative has not yet resurfaced.

In June 1878, Muybridge created sequential series of photographs with a battery of 12 cameras along the race track at Stanford's Palo Alto Stock Farm (now the campus of Stanford University). The shutters were automatically triggered when the wheel of a cart or the breast or legs of a horse tripped wires connected to an electromagnetic circuit. For a session on 15 June 1878, the press and a selection of turf men were invited to witness the process. An accident with a snapping strap was captured on the negatives and shown to the attendees, convincing even the most skeptical witnesses.[54] The news of this success was reported worldwide.[55][56]

The Daily Alta California reported that Muybridge first exhibited magic lantern slides of the photographs at the San Francisco Art Association on 8 July 1878.[57] Six different series were soon published, as cabinet cards entitled The Horse in Motion. Scientific American was among the publications at the time that carried reports and engravings of Muybridge's groundbreaking images.[58] Many people were amazed at the previously unseen positions of the horse's legs and the fact that a running horse at regular intervals had all four hooves in the air. This did not take place when the horse's legs were extended to the front and back, as imagined by contemporary illustrators, but when its legs were collected beneath its body as it switched from "pulling" with the front legs to "pushing" with the back legs.[59]

Galloping horse, animated using photos by Muybridge
Patent model of one of Muybridge's machines for photographing objects in motion, 1879.

In 1879, Muybridge continued with additional studies with 24 cameras and published a very limited edition portfolio of the results.

Muybridge had images from his motion studies copied in the form of silhouettes onto a disc, to be viewed in the machine he had invented, which he called a "zoopraxiscope". This device was later regarded as an early movie projector and the process as an intermediate stage toward motion pictures or cinematography.

San Francisco panorama

In 1878, Muybridge made a notable 13-part 360° photographic panorama of San Francisco. He presented a copy to the wife of Leland Stanford. Today, it can be viewed on the Internet as a seamlessly-spliced panorama, or as a QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panorama.[60]

Personal life, marriage, murder, acquittal, paternity and divorce

On 20 May 1871, 41-year-old Muybridge married 21-year-old divorcee Flora Shallcross Stone (née Downs).[61] The differences in their tastes and temperaments were understood to have been due to their age difference. Muybridge did not care for many of the amusements that she sought, so she went to the theatre and other attractions without him, and he seemed to be fine with that.[62] Muybridge was more of the type that would stay up all night to read classics.[18] Muybridge was also used to leaving home by himself for days, weeks or even months, visiting faraway places for personal projects or assignments. This did not change after his marriage.

On 14 April 1874 Flora gave birth to a son, Florado Helios Muybridge.[61]

At some stage, Flora became romantically involved with one of their friends, Harry Larkyns. Muybridge intervened several times and believed the affair was over when he sent Flora to stay with a relative and Larkyns found a job at a mine near Calistoga, California. In mid-October 1874, Muybridge learned how serious the relationship between his wife and Larkyns really was. Flora's maternity nurse revealed many details and she had in her possession some love letters that the couple had still been writing to each other. At her place, Muybridge also came across a picture of Florado with "Harry" written on the back in Flora's handwriting, suggesting that she believed the child to be Larkyns'.

On 17 October, Muybridge went to Calistoga to track down Larkyns. Upon finding him, Muybridge said, "I have a message for you from my wife", and shot him point-blank. Larkyns died that night, and Muybridge was arrested without protest and put in the Napa jail.[63]

A Sacramento Daily Union reporter visited Muybridge in jail for an hour and related how he was coping with the situation. Muybridge was in moderately good spirits and very hopeful. He felt he was treated very kindly by the officers and was a little proud of the influence he had on other inmates, which had earned him everyone's respect. He had protested the abuse of a "Chinaman" from a tough inmate, by claiming "No man of any country whose misfortunes shall bring him here shall be abused in my presence" and had strongly but politely voiced threats against the offender. He had addressed an outburst of profanity in a similar fashion.[64]

Flora filed for divorce on 17 December 1874 on the ground of extreme cruelty, but this first petition was dismissed.[65] It was reported that she fully sympathized with the prosecution of her husband.[66]

Muybridge was tried for murder in February 1875. His attorney, W.W. Pendegast (a friend of Stanford), pleaded insanity due to a severe head injury suffered in the 1860 stagecoach accident. At least four long-time acquaintances testified under oath that the accident had dramatically changed Muybridge's personality, from genial and pleasant to unstable and erratic.[2] During the trial, Muybridge undercut his own insanity case by indicating that his actions were deliberate and premeditated, but he also showed impassive indifference and uncontrolled explosions of emotion.[2] In the end he was acquitted on the grounds of justifiable homicide, with the explanation that if their verdict was not in accordance with the law, it was in accordance with the law of human nature. In other words: they believed they could not punish a person for doing something that they themselves would do in similar circumstances.[67]

The episode interrupted his photography studies, but not his relationship with Stanford, who had arranged for his criminal defence.[2]

Shortly after his acquittal in February 1875, Muybridge left the United States on a previously planned 9-month photography trip to Central America, as a "working exile".[59] By 1877, he had resumed work for Stanford.

Flora's second petition for divorce received a favourable ruling, and an order for alimony was entered in April 1875.[68] Flora died suddenly in July 1875 while Muybridge was in Central America.[2][68] She had placed their son, Florado Helios Muybridge (later nicknamed "Floddie" by friends), with a French couple. In 1876, Muybridge had the boy moved from a Catholic orphanage to a Protestant one and paid for his care.[68] Otherwise he had little to do with him.

Photographs of Florado Muybridge as an adult show him to have strongly resembled Muybridge. Put to work on a ranch as a boy, he worked all his life as a ranch hand and gardener. In 1944, Florado was hit by a car in Sacramento and killed.[7]

Today, the court case and transcripts are important to historians and forensic neurologists, because of the sworn testimony from multiple witnesses regarding Muybridge's state of mind and past behaviour.[2]

The American composer Philip Glass composed an opera, The Photographer, with a libretto based in part on court transcripts from the case.

Later motion studies

Eadweard Muybridge Boys playing Leapfrog (1883–86, printed 1887), collotype
Animated collotype, Boys playing Leapfrog
Animated collotype, Boys playing Leapfrog
Plate 180. Stepping on and over a chair, 1887, National Gallery of Art.
Plate 175. Crossing brook on stepping-stones with a fishing pole and can, 1887, National Gallery of Art.
American bison cantering—animated using 1887 photos by Eadweard Muybridge

Muybridge often travelled back to England and Europe to publicise his work. The opening of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869 and the development of steamships made travel much faster and less arduous than it was in 1860. On 13 March 1882 he lectured at the Royal Institution in London in front of a sell-out audience, which included members of the Royal Family, notably the future King Edward VII.[69] He displayed his photographs on screen and showed moving pictures projected by his zoopraxiscope.[69]

Muybridge and Stanford had a major falling-out concerning his research on equine locomotion. Stanford had asked his friend and horseman Dr. J. B. D. Stillman to write a book analysing The Horse in Motion, which was published in 1882.[58] Stillman used Muybridge's photos as the basis for his 100 illustrations, and the photographer's research for the analysis, but he gave Muybridge no prominent credit. The historian Phillip Prodger later suggested that Stanford considered Muybridge as just one of his employees, and not deserving of special recognition.[70]

However, as a result of Muybridge not being credited in the book, the Royal Society of Arts withdrew an offer to fund his stop-motion studies in photography, and refused to publish a paper he had submitted, accusing him of plagiarism.[2] Muybridge filed a lawsuit against Stanford to gain credit, but it was dismissed out of court.[59] Stillman's book did not sell as expected. Muybridge, looking elsewhere for funding, was more successful.[2] The Royal Society later invited Muybridge back to show his work.[59]

Lawn tennis, serving, 1887

In the 1880s, the University of Pennsylvania sponsored Muybridge's research using banks of cameras to photograph people in a studio, and animals from the Philadelphia Zoo to study their movement. The human models, either entirely nude or very lightly clothed, were photographed against a measured grid background in a variety of action sequences, including walking up or down stairs, hammering on an anvil, carrying buckets of water, or throwing water over one another. Muybridge produced sequences showing farm, industrial, construction, and household work, military manoeuvres, and everyday activities. He also photographed athletic activities such as baseball, cricket, boxing, wrestling, discus throwing, and a ballet dancer performing. Showing a single-minded dedication to scientific accuracy and artistic composition, Muybridge himself posed nude for some of the photographic sequences, such as one showing him swinging a miner's pick.[2][59]

Horse and rider jumping, 1887

Between 1883 and 1886, Muybridge made more than 100,000 images, working obsessively in Philadelphia under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1884, the painter Thomas Eakins briefly worked alongside him, to learn more about the application of photography to the study of human and animal motion. Eakins later favoured the use of multiple exposures superimposed on a single photographic negative to study motion more precisely, while Muybridge continued to use multiple cameras to produce separate images which could also be projected by his zoopraxiscope.[71] The vast majority of Muybridge's work at this time was done in a special sunlit outdoor studio, due to the bulky cameras and slow photographic emulsion speeds then available. Toward the end of this period, Muybridge spent much of his time selecting and editing his photos in preparation for publication.

In 1887, the photos were published as a massive collotype portfolio, with 781 plates comprising 20,000 of the photographs, in a groundbreaking collection titled Animal Locomotion: an Electro-Photographic Investigation of Connective Phases of Animal Movements.[72] Muybridge's work contributed substantially to developments in the science of biomechanics and the mechanics of athletics. Some of his books are still published today, and are used as references by artists, animators, and students of animal and human movement.[73]

In 1888, the University of Pennsylvania donated an album of Muybridge's photographs, which featured students and Philadelphia Zoo animals, to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdul Hamid II, who had a keen interest in photography. This gift may have helped to secure permissions for the excavations that scholars from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology later pursued in the Ottoman region of Mesopotamia (now Iraq), notably at the site of Nippur.[74] The Ottoman sultan reciprocated, five years later, by sending as a gift to the United States a collection of photograph albums featuring Ottoman scenes: the Library of Congress now preserves these albums as the Abdul Hamid II Collection.[75]

A phenakistoscope disc by Muybridge, 1893
The phenakistoscope disc in motion, creating the illusion of a couple waltzing, c. 1893

Recent scholarship has noted that in his later work, Muybridge was influenced by, and in turn, influenced the French photographer Étienne-Jules Marey. In 1881, Muybridge first visited Marey's studio in France and viewed stop-motion studies before returning to the US to further his own work in the same area.[76] Marey was a pioneer in producing multiple-exposure, sequential images using a rotary shutter in his so-called "Marey wheel" camera.

While Marey's scientific achievements in the realms of cardiology and aerodynamics (as well as pioneering work in photography and chronophotography) are indisputable, Muybridge's efforts were to some degree more artistic rather than scientific. As Muybridge explained, in some of his published sequences he had substituted images where original exposures had failed, in order to illustrate a representative movement (rather than producing a strictly scientific recording of a particular sequence).[77]

Today, similar setups of carefully timed multiple cameras are used in modern special effects photography, but they have the opposite goal of capturing changing camera angles, with little or no movement of the subject. This is often dubbed "bullet time" photography.

After his work at the University of Pennsylvania, Muybridge travelled widely and gave numerous lectures and demonstrations of his still photography and primitive motion picture sequences. At the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, Muybridge presented a series of lectures on the "Science of Animal Locomotion" in the Zoopraxographical Hall, built specially for that purpose in the "Midway Plaisance" arm of the exposition. He used his zoopraxiscope to show his moving pictures to a paying public. The Hall was the first commercial movie theater.[78]

Retirement and death

Eadweard Muybridge returned to his native England in 1894 and continued to lecture extensively throughout Great Britain. He returned to the US once more, in 1896–1897, to settle financial affairs and to dispose of property related to his work at the University of Pennsylvania. He retained control of his negatives, which he used to publish two popular books of his work, Animals in Motion (1899) and The Human Figure in Motion (1901), both of which remain in print over a century later.[79]

Muybridge died on 8 May 1904 in Kingston upon Thames of prostate cancer at the home of his cousin Catherine Smith.[80] His body was cremated, and its ashes interred in a grave at Woking in Surrey. On the grave's headstone his name is misspelled as "Eadweard Maybridge".[10][59]

In 2004, a British Film Institute commemorative plaque was installed on the outside wall of the former Smith house, at Park View, 2 Liverpool Road.[81] Many of his papers and collected artifacts were donated to Kingston Library, and are currently under the ownership of Kingston Museum in his place of birth.

Influence on others

According to an exhibition at Tate Britain, "His influence has forever changed our understanding and interpretation of the world, and can be found in many diverse fields, from Marcel Duchamp's painting Nude Descending a Staircase and countless works by Francis Bacon, to the blockbuster film The Matrix and Philip Glass's opera The Photographer."[82]

  • Sol LeWitt – Contemporary American artist was inspired by Muybridge's serial investigations. LeWitt explicitly pays homage to the photographer in Muybridge I and II (1964).
  • Diller Scofidio + RenfroEJM 1:Man Walking at Ordinary Speed and EJM2:Interia (1998). The two-part multimedia dance work with Charleroi/Danses and the Ballet Opera of Lyon was inspired by motion photography experiments of two photographer–scientists: Eadward Muybridge and Etiene-Jules Marey[83]
  • Étienne-Jules Marey – in 1882 recorded the first series of live-action photos with a single camera by a method of chronophotography; influenced and was influenced by Muybridge's work
  • Thomas Eakins – American artist who worked with and continued Muybridge's motion studies, and incorporated the findings into his own artwork
  • William Dickson – credited as inventor of the motion picture camera in 1890
  • Thomas Edison – in 1891 developed and owned patents for motion picture cameras
  • Marcel Duchamp – artist, painted Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, inspired by multiple-exposure photography in 1912
  • Harold Eugene Edgertonc. 1930 pioneered stroboscopic and high speed photography and film, producing an Oscar-winning short movie and many striking photographic sequences
  • Francis Bacon – painted from Muybridge photographs
  • John Gaeta – used the principles of Muybridge photography to create the bullet time slow-motion technique of the 1999 movie The Matrix.[84]
  • Steven Pippin – in 1999 so-called Young British Artist who converted a row of laundromat washing machines into sequential cameras in the style of Muybridge
  • Wayne McGregor – in 2011 UK choreographer collaborated with composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and artist Mark Wallinger on a piece entitled Undance, inspired by Muybridge's "action verbs"[85]

Exhibitions and collections

Muybridge bequeathed a selection of his equipment to Kingston Museum in Greater London. This includes his original biunial slide lantern,[86] a zoopraxiscope projector, over 2,000 glass magic lantern slides and 67 zoopraxiscope discs. The University of Pennsylvania Archives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hold a large collection of Muybridge's photographs, equipment, and correspondence.[87] The Philadelphia Museum of Art also holds a large collection of Muybridge material, including hundreds of collotype prints, gelatin internegatives, glass plate positives, phenakistoscope cards, and camera equipment, totalling just under 800 objects.[88] The Stanford University Libraries and the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University also maintain a large collection of Muybridge's photographs, glass plate negatives, and some equipment including a functioning zoopraxiscope.[89]

In 1991, the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, hosted a major exhibition of Muybridge's work, plus the works of many other artists who had been influenced by him. The show later traveled to other venues and a book-length exhibition catalogue was also published.[90] The Addison Gallery has significant holdings of Muybridge's photographic work.[91]

In 1993, the Canadian Centre for Architecture presented the exhibition Eadweard Muybridge and the Photographic Panorama of San Francisco, 1850-1880.[92]

In 2000–2001, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History presented the exhibition Freeze Frame: Eadweard Muybridge's Photography of Motion, plus an online virtual exhibit.[93]

From 10 April through 18 July 2010, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, mounted a major retrospective of Muybridge's work entitled Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change. The exhibit received favourable reviews from major publications including The New York Times.[94] The exhibition traveled in autumn 2010 to the Tate Britain, Millbank, London,[95] and also appeared at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

An exhibition of important items bequeathed by Muybridge to his birthplace of Kingston upon Thames, entitled Muybridge Revolutions, opened at the Kingston Museum on 18 September 2010 (exactly a century since the first Muybridge exhibition at the Museum) and ran until 12 February 2011.[96] The full collection is held by the Museum and Archives.[97]


Title page of the first edition of Descriptive Zoopraxography
  • Muybridge's Complete Human and Animal Locomotion, Vol. I: All 781 Plates from the 1887 "Animal Locomotion" (1979) Dover PublicationsISBN 9780486237923[98]
  • Descriptive Zoopraxography, or the Science of Animal Locomotion Made Popular. Library of Alexandria. 1893. ISBN 9781465542977.

Legacy and representation in other media

Eadweard Muybridge statue at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio of San Francisco
  • The main campus site of Kingston University has a building named after Muybridge.[99]
  • Many of Muybridge's photographic sequences have been published since the 1950s as artists' reference books. Cartoon animators often use his photos as a reference when drawing their characters in motion.[73][100][101]
  • In the 1964 television series hosted by Ronald Reagan, Death Valley Days, Hedley Mattingly was cast as Muybridge in the episode "The $25,000 Wager". In the story line, Muybridge invents the zoopraxiscope for his patron, former Governor Leland Stanford (Harry Holcombe), a race-horse owner. Muybridge's assignment is to determine by the use of multiple cameras whether all four hooves of a horse are briefly off the ground while trotting. Diane Brewster was cast as Muybridge's wife, the former Flora Stone, who was twenty-one years his junior.[102]
  • Jim Morrison makes a reference to Muybridge in his poetry book The Lords (1969), suggesting that "Muybridge derived his animal subjects from the Philadelphia Zoological Garden, male performers from the University".[103]
  • The filmmaker Thom Andersen made a 1974 documentary titled Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer, describing his life and work.
  • The composer Philip Glass's opera The Photographer (1982) is based on Muybridge's murder trial, with a libretto including text from the court transcript.
  • His pictures are shown in a 42-minute movie, made in 1984 by the Italian director Paolo Gioli, called "The naked killer" (Italian: L'assassino nudo).
  • Muybridge is a central figure in John Edgar Wideman's 1987 novel Reuben.
  • Muybridge's work figures prominently in Laird Barron's tale of Lovecraftian horror, "Hand of Glory".
  • Since 1991, the company Optical Toys has published Muybridge sequences in the form of movie flipbooks.
  • In 1993, the music video for U2's "Lemon", directed by Mark Neale, was filmed in black and white with a grid-like background as a tribute to Eadweard Muybridge.
  • The play Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge (2006) was a co-production between Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre and the University of British Columbia Theatre. While blending fiction with fact, it conveys Muybridge's obsession with cataloguing animal motion. The production started touring in 2010. In 2015, it would be adapted into a feature film.
  • The Canadian poet Rob Winger wrote Muybridge's Horse: A Poem in Three Phases (2007). The long poem won the CBC Literary Award for Poetry and was nominated for the Governor General's Award for Literature, the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and the Ottawa Book Award. It expressed his life and obsessions in a "poetic-photographic" style.
  • A 17-minute documentary about Muybridge, directed by Juho Gartz, was made in 2007 and was awarded "Best Documentary" in the Helsinki film Festival "Kettupäivät" the following year.[104]
  • To accompany the 2010 Tate exhibition, the BBC commissioned a TV programme, "The Weird World of Eadweard Muybridge", as part of Imagine, the arts series presented by Alan Yentob.[105]
  • A short animated film titled "Muybridge's Strings" by Kōji Yamamura was released in 2011.[106]
  • On 9 April 2012, the 182nd anniversary of his birth, a Google Doodle honoured Muybridge with an animation based on the photographs of the horse in motion.[107]
  • Writer Josh Epstein and director Kyle Rideout made the 2015 feature film Eadweard, starring Michael Eklund and Sara Canning. The film tells the story of Muybridge's motion experiments, social reactions to the morality of photographing nude figures in motion, work with sanitarium patients, and (fictional) death in a duel.[108]
  • Muybridge appears as a character in Brian Catling's 2012 novel, The Vorrh, where events from his life are blended into the fantasy narrative.
  • Czech theatre company Laterna Magika introduced an original play based on Muybridge's life in 2014.[109] The play follows his life and combines dancing and speech with multimedia created from Muybridge's works.
  • Five frames of the horse Annie G were encoded in bacteria's DNA using Crispr in 2017, 90% of which proved recoverable.[110]
  • In her book River of Shadows,[111] Rebecca Solnit tells Muybridge's story in an exploration of what it was about 19th-century California that enabled it to become a centre of cultural and technological innovation.

See also


  1. ^ "If anything, the surname Muggeridge actually derives from a place in Devon, Mogridge, in turn taking its name from one Mogga who held a ridge there. Edward, on the other hand, was indeed spelt Eadweard in Old English." Adrian Room, Naming Names: Stories of Pseudonyms and Name Changes, with a Who's Who, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981, p. 125.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Shimamura, Arthur P. (2002). "Muybridge in Motion: Travels in Art, Psychology, and Neurology" (PDF). History of Photography. 26 (4): 341–350. doi:10.1080/03087298.2002.10443307. S2CID 192943954. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  3. ^ Riesz, Megan (9 April 2012). "Did Eadweard J. Muybridge get away with murder?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Eadweard Muybridge (British photographer)". Britannica. Retrieved 17 July 2009. English photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion and in motion-picture projection.
  5. ^ a b Solnit 2003, p. 7
  6. ^ "Exhibition notes", Muybridge Exhibition, at Tate Britain, January 2011.
  7. ^ a b Solnit 2003, p. 148
  8. ^ Paul Hill Eadweard Muybridge Phaidon, 2001
  9. ^ a b Gowers, Rebecca (14 November 2019). The Scoundrel Harry Larkyns and his Pitiless Killing by the Photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Orion. ISBN 978-1-4746-0644-8.
  10. ^ a b Adam, Hans Christian, ed. (2010). Eadweard Muybridge, the human and animal locomotion photographs (1st ed.). Cologne: Taschen. p. 20. ISBN 978-3-8365-0941-1.
  11. ^ "Eadweard Muybridge". Kingston Council. Kingston upon Thames Council. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  12. ^ The building today bears a commemorative plaque marking it as Muybridge's childhood home.
  13. ^ Anderson, Maybanke (2001). "My Sprig of Rosemary". In Roberts, Jan; Kingston, Beverley (eds.). Maybanke, a woman's voice: the collected work of Maybanke Selfe – Wolstenholme – Anderson, 1845–1927. Avalon Beach, NSW: Ruskin Rowe Press. ISBN 978-0-9587095-3-8. pp. 24–25
  14. ^ ejmuybridge (6 September 2010). "New York City: Edward Muggeridge arrives in 1850". Muy Blog. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  15. ^ Hunter, Edwin G. (Edwin Gustavus) (1925). The descendants of Dr. James Hunter, who came to Canada from Yorkshire, England, in the year 1822. Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center. New York, F.H. Hitchcock.
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  111. ^ River of Shadows


External links

Media files used on this page

Nuvola kdict glass.svg
Author/Creator: , Licence: LGPL
Description Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.
Date 15 October 2004
Source http://icon-king.com
Author David Vignoni / ICON KING
(Reusing this file)


GNU head This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. This library is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but without any warranty; without even the implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. See version 2.1 and version 3 of the GNU Lesser General Public License for more details.
The Horse in Motion high res.jpg
The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge. Noted photographer, Eadweard Muybridge was hired, in 1872, by Leland Stanford a railroad baron and future university founder, to find out if there was moment mid-stride where horses had all hooves off the ground. It took several years but Muybridge delivered having captured a horse, named "Sallie Gardner," owned by Stanford; running at a 1:40 gait over the Palo Alto track, on 19th June 1878. Muybridge used a dozen cameras all triggered one after another with a set of strings.
Portrait of Eadweard Muybridge seated at base of tree (1872).jpg
U.S. Grant, Mariposa Grove, portrait of Eadweard Muybridge seated at base of tree, 1872
The Horse in Motion-anim.gif
The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge. "Sallie Gardner," owned by Leland Stanford; running at a 1:40 gait over the Palo Alto track, 19th June 1878. Frames 1-11 used for animation, frame 12 not used.
Eadweard Muybridge Boys playing Leapfrog (1883–86, printed 1887) animated F.gif
Author/Creator: Xpicto, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Animated Eadweard Muybridge Boys playing Leapfrog (1883–86, printed 1887)
Animal locomotion. Plate 294 (Boston Public Library) a.gif

BPLDC no.: 08_11_000070

Title: Animal locomotion. Plate 294

Volume: Vol. II. : Males (nude).

Creator: Muybridge, Eadweard, 1830-1904

Copyright Date: 1887

Extent: 1 photomechanical print : collotype

Genre: Collotypes; Motion study photographs; Book illustrations

Description: Lawn tennis; serving

Subject: Men; Nudes; Tennis; Human locomotion

Notes: Plate in: Animal locomotion : an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements, 1872-1885 / By Eadweard Muybridge. Philadelphia : University of Pennylvania, 1887, v. 2; Plate descriptions from: Animal locomotion : an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements : prospectus and catalogue of plates / by Eadweard Muybridge. Philadelphia : Printed by J.B. Lippincott Company, 1887.

BPL Department: Rare Books Department
Muybridge race horse animated.gif
Animated sequence of a race horse galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion).
Descriptive Zoopraxography.jpg
Author/Creator: Cullen328, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
The title page of the first edition of Descriptive Zoopraxography, an 1893 book by Edweard Muybridge. Book owned by the California State Library. Photo by Jim Heaphy.
Eadweard Muybridge Boys playing Leapfrog (1883–86, printed 1887) animated A.gif
Author/Creator: Xpicto, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Animated Eadweard Muybridge Boys playing Leapfrog (1883–86, printed 1887) collotype
Muybridge Buffalo galloping.gif
Animated sequence of a buffalo (American bison) galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion). Animation by Waugsberg, 2006-7-16.
Eadweard Muybridge, childhood home, Kingston.jpg
Author/Creator: Hsq7278, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Eadweard Muybridge childhood home. 20 High Street, Kingston upon Thames, England.
Muybridge horse jumping animated.gif
Animated sequence of a horse jumping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion). Animation by Waugsberg, 2006-10-7. The sequence is set to motion using frames of Human and Animal Locomotion, plate 636, "Daisy" jumping a hurdle, preparing for the leap and plate 637, "Daisy" jumping a hurdle, clearing, landing and recovering. Thus the plates are showing different parts of two different leaps over the hurdle. Each sequence consists of 20 frames. For the animation the sequences were put together at the highest point of the leap.
Muybridge's Apparatus for Photographing Objects in Motion.jpg
Author/Creator: Smithsonian Museum of American History, Licence: CC0
Photographer Eadweard Muybridge's apparatus for photographing objects while in motion
Phenakistoscope 3g07690b.gif
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
Optic Projection fig 411.jpg
caption: "Fig. 411. Eadweard Muybridge, 1830-1904. (From Animals in Motion, 1899)."