THE COMPLEAT EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE: NOTHING IS EASY


With Muybridge, nothing is easy.

It starts with his name - Edward, Eadweard, Eduardo, Muggeridge, Muygridge, Muybridge; or as the crematorium marker has it, Maybridge - and gets worse. He was born in one of a row of cottages called The Bittoms (maybe), and when young he lived at 30 High Street - but the street was then known as West by Thames, or sometimes Town's End. He emigrated in 1850 (the books say 1851 or 52). He may have learnt photography when he returned to England for a few years, or in Paris, or perhaps when he got back to the USA. Or maybe before his sojourn to England.

He issued photographs under the name Helios - some of which may have been taken by other photographers. He married Flora Shallcross (Shawcross?) Stone in 1871 (or 1872?). He photographed three (maybe four) versions of his Panorama of San Francisco. (Even Muybridge himself got confused at this point, mixing up one of the negatives between versions). He published a series of photographs called The Horse in Motion (not to be confused with the later book of the same title published under someone else's name, but containing Muybridge pictures). His galloping horse series were reproduced as zoetrope strips. (Err, no, not that one, that's a praxinoscope strip...) His album Attitudes of Animals in Motion was produced in two versions (or maybe three). His Animal Locomotion plates (which also included the human figure) were available in 11 volumes - or as a reduced set of 100 plates of the buyers' choice, or as a selection (and in recent decades, as three volumes). And not forgetting that his last two books Animals in Motion and The Human Figure in Motion also comprised plates originally used in Animal Locomotion . (And The Human Figure in Motion is also the title of a more recent but different book of Muybridge photographs). The engineer Arthur Brown who supervised the camera equipment setup at the University of Pennsylvania shouldn't, of course, be confused with the Arthur Brown who may have taught Muybridge photography. And it should come as no surprise to learn that the George Lawrence of his one-time prospective publishers Lawrence & Houseworth, isn't the George Lawrence with whom, later, he shared a home.

Then there was his zoöpraxiscope/zoopraxiscope - or zoogyroscope. Or zoographyscope as he orginally called it. Reports say that he projected photographs with the zoopraxiscope, but the discs aren't actually photographic. (Well OK, one of them is). The zoopraxiscope may have been replaced in 1893 to show the new size 12-inch motion picture discs, or maybe it was just modified. (Yes - there were two types of glass disc - b/w 16-inch and colour 12-inch.) He may, or may not, have shown the colour discs at the Chicago World's Fair, where he sold (square) paper b/w and colour versions of the colour discs. Incidentally, his disc of the 1894 Derby is dated 1893. Some modern accounts state that the machine has a Maltese cross movement - but it hasn't. He lectured to the Royal Institution (several times, not forgetting the rehearsal), the Royal Academy, and the Royal Society - not the same body as the Royal Society of Arts, which was then just the Society of Arts. He was 'written up' in La Nature, as well as in Nature .

And that's not the half of it, but it's perhaps enough to give you a flavour of the problem/s for Muybridge researchers, writers - and readers.

All of the above is from memory, so you'll forgive me if it isn't all absolutely correct. I've been as guilty as anyone of getting my Muybridge facts wrong: (yes, yes I know - there were 24 lateral cameras at the University of Pennsylvania sessions, not 12) - and this is my penance.

The quality of the Chronology will be improved and it will, I hope, be added to frequently, and extra entries (with references) are always welcome at:
s-herbert@easynet.co.uk.

The purpose of this Chronology is to give the best-guess dates for Muybridge's activities. Eventually, references will be given for all of the entries, allowing the researcher to decide on the likely accuracy of each entry. It also serves to gather together material from many published sources - as well as previously unpublished research - so that the complexity of his life and work becomes increasingly apparent, but also becomes manageable, making the researcher's work that much easier. (I didn't say easy - with Muybridge, nothing is easy).

Stephen Herbert

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THE COMPLEAT EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE: THIS WEBSITE


This Website

This website, established in 2007, was originally a place where I could compile an extensive chronology of Muybridge's life and work, for my own research use and for anyone else who was interested. A blog was added (with rather erratic entries), and some other pages. Late in 2008 I decided to upgrade it somewhat, with a new title: The Compleat Eadweard Muybridge. The blog, now entitled Muy Blog, has migrated.

The title is of course ironic; there will never be a full account of Muybridge's life and work. There are gaps in our knowledge of his early life that are unlikely to be completely filled, and his output was so prolific and complex and challenging, that there will always be ongoing research. (With Muybridge, nothing is easy....)

Nevertheless, what I have tried to do is create a central web resource covering all aspects, both on this site and through links to other Muybridge web-based material. I am always interested in receiving your Muybridge news and comments.

All sections are 'work in progress' - being added to and upgraded as time allows.

Stephen Herbert
Visiting Research Fellow, Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, Kingston University, London.