Eadweard Muybridge was born in Kingston on Thames in 1830, when he was known by the somewhat duller name of Edward James Muggeridge.
At the age of 22 he left England for America to seek his fame and fortune. He first worked in New York as a bookbinder's agent, and then moved on to San Francisco where his interest in photography bloomed. Using a mobile darkroom that he christened The Flying Studio, he produced stunning stereoscopic landscapes, such as this one from within a volcano…
The fame that Muybridge desired finally came about when he was hired by the railroad baron, Leland Stanford. A passionate racing horse breeder 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 able to prove that, yes it really did!
The method he used was to set up several cameras, each with its shutter attached to a thread. As the horse ran past and broke each thread, so an instant exposure was produced.
The public were amazed to see the results, and Muybridge went on to develop his art, producing a substantial body of work which was published in the books 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 motion went on to inspire Francis Bacon, as seen in the painting above.
In his own time Muybridge's work also inspired early film makers, many of whom would have been aware of his development of the Zoopraxiscope which involved printing a series of images onto a circular base that was then made to spin around so as to give the illusion of movement. In other words, animation. The basis of moving film.
|A Zoopraxiscope a couple dancing|
Click HERE to see the animation in process
A sweet and romantic picture can be seen in the image above. But Muybridge's own love life was beset by violence and tragedy.
Muybridge's historically significant animated view of a buffalo galloping over the plains can be seen here.