Eadweard Muybridge

Showcased in The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, I was inspired to read more about this man. In summary, Eadweard Muybridge is known for changing names several times, suffering a significant head injury in 1860, murdering his wife’s alleged lover in 1874 (and being found ‘not guilty’ due to justifiable homicide), moving from England to San Fransisco repeatedly with a brief time in Central America and developing a mechanical system to capture motion that has influenced the development of moving film images on the back of a whimsical and expensive bet by Leland Stanford.

Eadweard Muybridge display at The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

Following the successful capturing of images of a running horse with 12 cameras Muybridge proved that a horse does leave the ground with all 4 legs at once. Completing this task in 1878 had taken 5 years and the result was significant not only because of the evidence in relation to running horses but particularly because Muybridge had, through his developments of camera mechanisms for the bet, taken photography to another level. Whereas motion was always a blur as an image could take a long time to complete during which all subjects and items needed to be still, with Muybridge’s adaptations the image could be taken in a fraction of a second.

Following his development of camera technology, Muybridge developed a mechanism to display moving images called a Zoopraxiscope (e.g. Chocolate Films, 2014). According to Bergen (2012), this influenced the invention of the Kinetoscope by Thomas A. Edison and William Dickson for showing motion pictures (e.g. racetocinema, 2013).

Zoopraxiscope disc used to show movement displayed at The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

In addition to the details already mentioned he obtained two patents one for print processes and one for a machine for washing clothes and other fabrics. As well as taking thousands of photographs of animals and humans moving he also photographed landscapes in Yosemite and the growing city of San Fransisco. His work has influenced paintings, films and an opera, The Photographer, by Philip Glass.


Bergen, Jennifer. April 9 2012. 7 Incredible Things You Did Not Know About Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://www.pcmag.com/feature/296412/7-incredible-things-you-didn-t-know-about-eadweard-muybridge. [accessed 17-04-2018].

Chocolate Films. 30 September 2014. Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope. A Chocolate Films Production for Kingston Museum. You Tube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG5erS2GNG0. [accessed 17-04-2018].

racetocinema. 19 March 2013. Edison Kinetograph Horizontal Camera Replica. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjDXrsgOwUw. [accessed 17-04-2018].

Tate Britain Exhibition. 8 September 2010-16 January 2011. Edweard Muybridge. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/eadweard-muybridge. [accessed 17-04-2018].

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum. http://www.bdcmuseum.org.uk.

Wikipedia. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge. [accessed 17-04-2018].

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