Eadweard Muybridge was born in Kingston on Thames in 1830 - at which point he bore the somewhat duller name of Edward James Muggeridge.
At the age of 22 he left England for America, seeking his fame and fortune. He first worked in New York as a bookbinder's agent and then moved to San Francisco where his interest in photography bloomed. Using a mobile darkroom that was christened The Flying Studio, he produced stunning stereoscopic views and many beautiful landscapes, such as this one from within a volcano...
But the greater fame that Muybrige desired was found when he came to be hired by the railroad baron, Leland Stanford, a passionate racing horse breeder who commissioned the photographer to solve the age old argument as to the whether or not a running horse ever lifts all four feet from the ground - and Muybridge was to prove that it did!
The ingenius method that Muybridge used was to set up several cameras with shutters attached to threads. As the horse passed by and broke each thread an instant exposure was produced.
The public were amazed at the results and Muybridge went on to develop his art, producing a substantial body of work which was published in his books entitled Animal Locomotion and The Human Figure in Motion.
Muybridge's study of wrestlers
Francis Bacon's 'Two Fighters'
Such systematic studies of the science of animal motion went on to inspire many twentieth century artists such as Francis Bacon.
In time Muybridge developed the Zoopraxiscope - a method of printing a series of images onto a circuclar base which when made to spin around gave the illusion of movement. In other words, animation.
A Zoopraxiscope - click here to see the couple dancing