Birthday: April 9, 1830
Died At Age: 74
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Edward James Muggeridge
Born Country: England
Born in: Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Famous as: Photographer
Spouse/Ex-: Flora Shallcross Stone
father: John Muggeridge
mother: Susan Muggeridge
children: Florado Helios Muybridge
Died on: May 8, 1904
place of death: Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Cause of Death: Prostate Cancer.
awards: National Inventors Hall of Fame
Who was Eadweard Muybridge?
Eadweard Muybridge was an English-American photographer and technical pioneer. He is known for his impressive studies of motion through photographs and discoveries in the field of motion picture. He was born as Edward James Muggeridge, but later changed his name to Eadweard Muybridge. He also called himself Eduardo Santiago Muybridge while he was living in Guatemala. He often signed his photographs under the pseudonym "Helios," meaning the sun god. In his 20s, he moved from England to the United States and started working as a bookseller there. While recovering from a life-altering accident, he gained an interest in photography and in no time, he became widely famous for as a landscape photographer. His collection of the Yosemite Valley is one of his prominent works. He was also an inventor who had two patents under his name. He discovered new methods to capture animal locomotion using multiple cameras. He invented a device called the 'zoopraxiscope,' which was an important invention in the field of motion picture and cinematography. He captured over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion while he was doing research at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also considered to be the first cinematographer and scientific photographer. His works have inspired and influenced visual artists all over the world and changed the course of scientific and industrial photography. The imagery of Animal Locomotion had a deep impact on famous artists, including Ansel Adams, Francis Bacon, Cy Twombly, Marcel Duchamp, and Jasper Johns.
Childhood & Early Life
Eadweard Muybridge was born on 9 April 1830 in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey county of England. His parents were John and Susanna Muggeridge. His father was a coal trader who operated from the basement of their home.
They lived at No.30 High Street, next to River Thames. His father passed away in 1843, after which his mother started looking after their family business. His grandfather John Muggeridge, a stationer, taught him how to sell books.
When Muybridge was 20 years old, he moved to New York City and in 1855, to San Francisco, California.
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In the mid-1850s, Eadweard Muybridge began working as a publishing agent and bookseller for the London Printing and Publishing Company, based in California. The city of San Francisco was flourishing at that time and had several bookstores, photo studios, and hotels.
By 1860, he had established himself as a successful bookseller. He wanted to acquire precious and antique books from England, so he handed over the bookshop to his brother and travelled in a stagecoach to England.
While he was travelling to England, Muybridge met with an accident and suffered from critical head injuries. His vision became blurry and senses were impaired, for which he sought treatment from the noted English physician, Sir William Gull.
Between 1861 and 1866, he started taking a keen interest in photography while recovering from his injuries in England.
In 1867, Muybridge moved back to San Francisco as a professional photographer. He had an eye for detail and technical skills to match it, which helped him capture some interesting images of landscapes and architectural wonders.
Muybridge became widely known for his landscape stills. Among his most notable works was the Yosemite Valley that depicted the magnificence of the West and the Tlingit people of Alaska.
He was also the one to photograph the San Francisco Mint during its construction, capturing a series of images using time-lapse photography.
Eadweard Muybridge had gained immense popularity by the late 1800s. The former California Governor, Leland Stanford, commissioned him a job that would settle a long-standing debate.
People had wondered for years if all four hooves of a horse in a gallop left the ground at the same time. Stanford was of the view that they did, but the horses gallop at such a high speed that it was not possible for anyone prove it unless photographed at the correct moment.
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In 1872, Muybridge started to take pictures of running horses as part of the project. Initially, it was found that Stanford was right, but since there were some defects in Muybridge's photography methods, the bet could not be settled.
Stanford encouraged Muybridge to experiment with his techniques, which led to the latter coming up with new ways and evolved methods to photograph horses in motion.
In 1878, he published a study called the 'Sallie Gardner at a Gallop' or ‘The Horse in Motion. The findings depict a horse with all its hooves off the ground.
Some of his most memorable works include "Pi-Wi-Ak (Shower of Stars), Vernal Falls, 400ft, Valley of Yosemite (1872)", "Panorama of Lava Beds from Signal Station at Tule Lake, Camp South (1873)" and "Panorama of San Francisco (1878)".
Family & Personal Life
Eadweard Muybridge married a 21 years old woman called Flora Shallcross in 1872. In April 1874, she gave birth to their son, Florado Helios Muybridge. In the same year, he found out that a drama critic called Major Harry Larkyns might be the father of their infant.
On 17 October 1874, he shot Larkyns in front of several witnesses. Larkyns died instantly, and Muybridge was arrested before being taken to Napa jail.
Muybridge was accused of murder, but he pleaded insanity during the trial. His friends and acquaintances testified on his behalf, saying that his accident had left him with a serious brain impairment, which caused him to act violently at times.
The jury dismissed his insanity plea; however, they absolved him of murder on the grounds of "justifiable homicide." After being acquitted in February 1875, he moved to Central America and started working there.
By April 1875, Flora and Muybridge had divorced, and while he was away, she suddenly died at the age of 24.
In 1894, he moved back to England and continued teaching photography. He also published two books; "Animals in Motion" (1899) and "The Human Figure in Motion" (1901). Both of these books are highly acclaimed and immensely popular among photographers and enthusiasts.
After suffering from prostate cancer for several years, Muybridge passed away on 8 May 1904 at the age of 74. He died at his cousin's house in Kingston upon Thames.
After his cremation, his remains were buried in Woking, Surrey. In line with his penchant for aliases, his name on the grave’s headstone is erroneously inscribed as "Eadweard Maybridge".