Today we mark the birth of British photographer, inventor and innovator Eadweard Muybridge. Born April 9, 1830, Muybridge was one of the early pioneers of photography, whose work documenting the movements of animals and humans continues to inform and influence today. What the human eye could not capture at the time, Muybridge’s series of cameras, often operating on timers, could. And so, viewers of the late 19th century were able to see in a sequence of photos every step taken by a horse at full gallop, the sleek movements of a cat running and each flap of the wings of a bird in flight. Imagine if you were seeing these actions frozen on film for the first time:
In 1879, Muybridge developed a device he called the Zoopraxiscope to use for presentations. One inserted a disc with images around the edge into the device, which rotated and projected the images onto a screen. The discs were usually painted glass based on Muybridge’s photographs. The effect was to give the audience an impression of movement, bringing Muybridge’s work to life.
- Explore Muybridge & Animal Locomotion, a new Flickr set from the Library of Congress. View all of the Library of Congress Flickr sets.
- Enjoy additional images from the plates of Animal Locomotion by Eadweard Muybridge, published in 1887. [View catalog record for book.]
- See the text and images of Muybridge’s 1881 publication The Attitudes of Animals in Motion. [View catalog record for book.]
- View 1878 photographs of the horse in motion by Muybridge.
- Explore Muybridge’s other photographic work. Some were taken while he worked for the U.S. Government. His panoramic photograph of San Francisco captures the city nearly 30 years before the 1906 earthquake.
- Have a look at the colorful zoopraxiscopes in the Prints and Photographs Division’s collection.
- Explore Eadweard Muybridge’s entire career and work through Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities, a website created by Kingston University and Kingston Museum in the United Kingdom.
- Read about the history of animal locomotion studies in the Inside Adams blog post: “Animal Locomotion: From Antiquity to the 21st Century“