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Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard MuybridgeAKA Edward James Muggeridge

Born: 9-Apr-1830
Birthplace: Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Died: 8-May-1904
Location of death: Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Cremated, Woking, England

Gender: Male
Religion: Protestant
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Photographer, Cinematographer

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Animal Locomotion

Eadweard Muybridge (pronounced my-bridge) is best known for settling a bet for railroad baron Leland Stanford, arranging a series of cameras along the horse's path with trip-wires triggered by the advancing animal. When developed, the snapshots revealed that all four of the horse's feet had been off the ground in mid-gallop. It sounds simple, but this was a time when "photography" meant large wooden boxes on stilts, and ordinary exposures took at least several seconds. It took Muybridge five years to perfect the technology that answered Stanford's question. Even more groundbreaking, his photos unexpectedly showed that the horse's legs were not aloft at the point when the legs were extended forward and back, but instead at the point in its gait when all four legs were together under its body. It was a finding that made news in Scientific American.

Building on this, Muybridge photographed birds in flight, humans walking and playing tennis, zoo animals on the prowl, and more eccentric photos, including a series showing a white horse jumping a fence while the animal's naked rider smoked a cigar. He invented the zoopraxiscope, a device in which 24 of his rapid-sequential photographs could be mounted on a wheel, which was then spun to give the viewer the illusion that the pictures were moving. Muybridge showed his device to Thomas Edison and William K. L. Dickson, undoubtedly influencing the invention of motion pictures as they are known today.

Born Edward Muggeridge, he also went by Muygridge before settling on Muybridge, and worked in the publishing and book-binding business before turning to photography. Early in his career as a photographer, he used the name Helios, and was seriously injured in a carriage accident, leaving him with altered senses of smell and taste. He first earned fame for a Yosemite Valley series of photographs and stereoscopic slides -- photos taken with a twin-lensed camera, the lenses a few inches apart, creating the illusion of three-dimensional images. He was hired by the federal government to photograph unmapped territories in Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming. He took photos of Guatemala and Panama, and used 13 cameras to create an amazingly wide view of San Francisco and its harbor.

Muybridge was prosecuted and acquitted in the 1874 murder of his wife's lover, San Francisco Post drama critic Harry Larkyns. Against his wishes, Muybridge's lawyer entered a plea of insanity, but the jury found that the killing was a justifiable homicide under "unwritten law". Muybridge eventually returned to his native England, where he died of a heart attack while digging a model of the Great Lakes in his garden.

Father: John Muggeridge (b. 1797, d. 1843)
Mother: Susanna Smith Muggeridge (b. 1807)
Brother: George Muggeridge (b. 1833, d. 1858)
Brother: Thomas Muggeridge (b. 1836, d. 1923)
Wife: John Muggeridge (b. 1827, d. 1847)
Wife: Flora Shallcross Stone Muybridge (m. 1872, d. 1875)
Son: Floredo Helios Muybridge (b. Apr-1874, d. 1944, perhaps son of Harry Larkyns, killed by Muybridge)

    Teacher: San Francisco Art Institute
    Scholar: University of Pennsylvania (1883-87)

    US Official Director of Photographic Surveys (1868-71)
    Murder of his wife's lover, Calistoga, CA (17-Oct-1874), acquitted

Author of books:
Animal Locomotion (1887, photography)
Descriptive Zoopraxography: The Science of Animal Locomotion Made Popular (1893, photography)
Animals in Motion (1899, photography)
The Human Figure in Motion (1901, photography)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #3061 (32, issued 22-Feb-1996)


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