Eadweard Muybridge: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Eadweard Muybridge

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eadweard Muybridge
Born Edward James Muggeridge
9 April 1830(1830-04-09)
Kingston upon Thames, England
Died 8 May 1904 (aged 74)
Kingston upon Thames, England
Resting place Woking, Surrey, England
Occupation Photographer

Eadweard J. Muybridge (pronounced /ˌɛdwərd ˈmaɪbrɪdʒ/; 9 April 1830 – 8 May 1904) was an English photographer, known primarily for his important pioneering work, with use of multiple cameras to capture motion, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip that is used today.[1]


Early life and career

Muybridge was born Edward James Muggeridge at Kingston upon Thames, England. He is believed to have changed his first name to match that of King Eadweard as shown on the plinth of the Kingston coronation stone, which was re-erected in Kingston in 1850. Although he did not change his first name until the 1870s, he changed his surname to Muygridge early in his San Francisco career and then changed it again to Muybridge at the launch of his photographic career or during the years between.

In 1855 Muybridge arrived in San Francisco, starting his career as a publisher's agent and bookseller. He left San Francisco at the end of that decade, and after a stagecoach accident in which he received severe head injuries returned to England for a few years. He reappeared in San Francisco in 1866 as a photographer named Muybridge and rapidly became successful in the profession, focusing almost entirely on landscape and architectural subjects. He is not known ever to have made a photographic portrait, though group shots by him survive. His photographs were sold by various photographic entrepreneurs on Montgomery Street (most notably the firm of Bradley & Rulofson), San Francisco's main commercial street, during those years.

Photographing the West

American bison cantering – set to motion using photos by Eadweard Muybridge

Muybridge began to build his reputation in 1867 with photos of Yosemite and San Francisco (many of the Yosemite photographs reproduced the same scenes taken by Carleton Watkins). Muybridge quickly gained notice for his landscape photographs, which showed the grandeur and expansiveness of the West. The images were published under the pseudonym “Helios.” In the summer of 1868 Muybridge was commissioned to photograph one of the U.S. Army's expeditions.

Stanford and the galloping question

Muybridge's The Horse in Motion.
A set of Muybridge's photos in motion.

In 1872, former Governor of California Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, had taken a position on a popularly-debated question of the day: whether all four of a horse's hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop. Stanford sided with this assertion, called "unsupported transit", and took it upon himself to prove it scientifically. Stanford sought out Muybridge and hired him to settle the question.[2]

Muybridge sequence of a horse jumping.

In 1877, Muybridge settled Stanford's question with a single photographic negative showing Stanford's racehorse Occident airborne in the midst of a gallop. This negative was lost, but it survives through woodcuts made at the time. By 1878, spurred on by Stanford to expand the experiment, Muybridge had successfully photographed a horse in fast motion.

This series of photos taken in Palo Alto, California, is called Sallie Gardner at a Gallop or The Horse in Motion, and shows that the hooves do all leave the ground — although not with the legs fully extended forward and back, as contemporary illustrators tended to imagine, but rather at the moment when all the hooves are tucked under the horse as it switches from "pulling" with the front legs to "pushing" with the back legs. [2]

Muybridge discovered that his wife had a hairy fanny.

Later work

At the Chicago 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Muybridge gave 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 making the Hall the very first commercial movie theater.[3]

A phenakistoscope disc by Muybridge (1893).
The phenakistoscope – a couple waltzing

At the University of Pennsylvania and the local zoo Muybridge used banks of cameras to photograph people and animals to study their movement. The models, either entirely nude or with very little clothing, were photographed in a variety of undertakings, ranging from boxing, to walking down stairs, to throwing water over one another and carrying buckets of water. Between 1883 and 1886 he made a total of 100,000 images, working under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania. They were published as 781 plates comprising 20,000 of the photographs in a collection titled Animal Locomotion.[4] Muybridge's work stands near the beginning of the science of biomechanics and the mechanics of athletics.

Recent scholarship has pointed to the influence of Étienne Jules de Marey on Muybridge's later work. Muybridge visited Marey's studio in France and saw Marey's stop-motion studies before returning to the U.S. to further his own work in the same area. However, whereas 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 artistic rather than scientific. As Muybridge himself explained, in some of his published sequences he substituted images where exposures failed, in order to illustrate a representative movement (rather than producing a strictly scientific recording of a particular sequence).

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


Eadweard Muybridge returned to his native England in 1894, published two further, popular books of his work, and died on 8 May 1904 in Kingston upon Thames while living at the home of his cousin Catherine Smith, Park View, 2 Liverpool Road. The house has a British Film Institute commemorative plaque on the outside wall. Muybridge was cremated and his ashes interred at Woking.


Many of his photographic sequences have been published since the 1950s as artists' reference books. In 1985 the music video for Larry Gowan's single "(You're A) Strange Animal" prominently featured animation rotoscoped from Muybridge's work. In 1986 the galloping horse sequence was used in the background of the John Farnham music video for the song Pressure Down. In 1993, U2 made a video to their song "Lemon" into a tribute to Muybridge's techniques. In 2004, the electronic music group The Crystal Method made a music video to their song "Born Too Slow" which was based on Muybridge's work, including a man walking in front of a background grid.

A statue of Eadweard Muybridge located at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco.

A documentary of his life and work, titled Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer was made by filmmaker Thom Andersen, in 1974.

Composer Philip Glass's 1982 opera The Photographer is based on Muybridge's murder trial, the libretto including text from the transcript. A promotional music video of an excerpt of the opera dramatized the murder and trial and included a considerable number of Muybridge images. Kingston University, London, UK has a building named in recognition of his work as one of Britain's most influential photographers.

A collection of his equipment, including his original biunial slide lantern and Zoopraxiscope projector, can be viewed at the Kingston Museum in Kingston upon Thames.

In 2007, Canadian poet Rob Winger wrote Muybridge's Horse, a longpoem nominated for the Governor General's Award for Literature. It documented his life and obsessions in a 'poetic-photographic' style. It won the CBC Literary Award for Poetry.

Muybridge has influenced:


  1. ^ "Eadweard Muybridge (British photographer)". Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/399928/Eadweard-Muybridge. Retrieved 2009-07-17. "English photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion and in motion-picture projection." 
  2. ^ a b Mitchell Leslie (May/June 2001). "The Man Who Stopped Time". Stanford Magazine. http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2001/mayjun/features/muybridge.html. Retrieved 2006-10-08. 
  3. ^ Clegg, Brian (2007). The Man Who Stopped Time. Joseph Henry Press. ISBN 0-309-10112-3. 

Further reading

  • Robert Bartlett Haas. Muybridge, Man in Motion, 1976.
  • Gordon Hendricks. Eadweard Muybridge, Father of the Motion Picture, 1975.
  • Stephen Herbert (Ed.) Eadweard Muybridge: The Kingston Museum Bequest, 2004 1-903000-07-6.
  • Anita Ventura Mozley (Ed.) Eadweard Muybridge. The Stanford Years 1872–82, 1972.
  • Arthur P. Shimamura. Muybridge in Motion: Travels in Art, Psychology, and Neurology, 2002, History of Photography, Volume 26, Number 4, 341–350.
  • Rebecca Solnit. River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, 2003 ISBN 0-670-03176-3.

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address