Born in 1830, Eaweard Muybridge was an eminent photographer who pioneered in the study of creating an illusion of motion by placing images in a sequence. Students around the world are given his example in subjects like animation, photography and film production.
In 1867, he became a specialized photographer with extremely adept artistic and technical skills. His primary focus was architecture and landscape. His photos show West’s expansiveness. If humans were illustrated then they appeared as dwarfs surrounded by the vastness of nature.
He migrated to the United States at a young age but it was not until 1868 that he became well-known for his photos of California’s Yosemite Valley. A year later, he also pioneered the art of animal locomotion. He took pictures in Alaska of Tlingit people. In 1871, Muybridge was hired by the Lighthouse Board to take images of lighthouses on the west coast of America. In 1873, the United States Army commissioned Muybridge to photographically document the Modoc War. For year or so, he travelled across Central America for the purpose of photography. After five years, he made a panoramic photograph depicting San Francisco for Leland Stanford’s wife.
The 1880s were Eadweard Muybridge’s most productive years in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, because he produced more than 100,000 photos of humans and animals in activity. He captured motion in a sequence of still images, something that the naked eye cannot do.
His later years passed as he gave public demonstrations and lectures about photography and his technique to arrange images in a sequence to create a sense of motion. He extensively studied his works by editing and then publishing them. This was a milestone for visual artists in the development of the industrial and scientific photography.
Muybridge’s most noted sequential photographs were The Horse in Motion, 1878; Boys playing Leapfrog, 1883 to 1886; and a phenakistoscope disc of a whirling couple, 1893.
He converted a vehicle into his mobile darkroom. The stereographic work became very popular and was sold on Montgomery Street in San Francisco by photography entrepreneurs and galleries.
Robert B. Woodward hired Eadweard Muybridge to photograph the Woodward’s Garden that included a park, museum, aquarium, and zoo.
Muybridge’s tools and equipment collection is displayed for view at the Kingston Museum, South West London. The University of Pennsylvania has a huge archive of Muybridge’s photographs. Photos are with the Stanford University too. In 1991, an exhibition of the work by Muybridge was done in Massachusetts in Phillips Academy’s Addison Gallery of American Art. The show also had the works of people who gained inspiration from Muybridge. The exhibition traveled to new venues as well and catalog of the exhibit was published. In 2000, the exposition Freeze Frame: Eadweard Muybridge’s Photography of Motion was presented at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History. Moreover, In 2010 for four months, an important retrospective, Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, was mounted in Washington, D.C. at the Corcoran Gallery of Art on the work of Muybridge. The show traveled to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Millbank and Tate Britain.
In 1894, Muybridge returned to England and continued giving lectures across Great Britain. He visited US in 1896 for an year to resolve some financial matters. He retained the negatives of his photographs and published Animals in Motion in 1899 and The Human Figure in Motion in 1901.