Muybridge, Eadweard James

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Muybridge, Eadweard James

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9 April 1830 - 8 May 1904

History

Eadweard James Muybridge (/??dw?rd ?ma?br?d?/; 9 April 1830 - 8 May 1904, birth name Edward James Muggeridge) was an English photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion, and early work in motion-picture projection. He adopted the name Eadweard Muybridge, believing it to be the original Anglo-Saxon form of his name.

He emigrated to the United States as a young man and became a bookseller. He returned to England in 1861 and took up professional photography, learning the wet-plate collodion process, and secured at least two British patents for his inventions. He went back to San Francisco in 1867, and in 1868 his large photographs of Yosemite Valley made him world famous. Today, Muybridge is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion in 1877 and 1878, which used multiple cameras to capture motion in stop-motion photographs, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip used in cinematography.

In 1874 he shot and killed Major Harry Larkyns, his wife's lover, but was acquitted in a jury trial on the grounds of justifiable homicide. He travelled for more than a year in Central America on a photographic expedition in 1875. In the 1880s, Muybridge entered a very productive period at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, producing over 100,000 images of animals and humans in motion, capturing what the human eye could not distinguish as separate movements. He spent much of his later years giving public lectures and demonstrations of his photography and early motion picture sequences, traveling back to England and Europe to publicise his work. He also edited and published compilations of his work, which greatly influenced visual artists and the developing fields of scientific and industrial photography. He returned to his native England permanently in 1894, and in 1904, the Kingston Museum, containing a collection of his equipment, was opened in his hometown. In an accident in 1860, suffered severe head injury. Arthur P. Shimamura, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has speculated that Muybridge suffered substantial injuries to the orbitofrontal cortex that probably also extended into the anterior temporal lobes, which may have led to some of the emotional, eccentric behavior reported by friends in later years, as well as freeing his creativity from conventional social inhibitions. Today, there still is little effective treatment for this kind of injury. Many have speculated that Muybridge became an acquired savant from this injury. In 1872, Muybridge married Flora Shallcross Stone, a divorcee 21 years old and half his age. In 1874, Muybridge discovered that his young wife Flora's friend, a drama critic known as Major Harry Larkyns, might have fathered their seven-month-old son Florado. On 17 October, he travelled north of San Francisco to Calistoga to track down Larkyns. Upon finding him, Muybridge said, "Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge and here's the answer to the letter you sent my wife", and shot him point-blank. Larkyns died that night, and Muybridge was arrested without protest and put in the Napa jail. He was tried for murder. His defence attorney pleaded insanity due to the severe head injury which Muybridge had suffered in the 1860 stagecoach accident. At least four long-time acquaintances testified under oath that the accident had dramatically changed Muybridge's personality, from genial and pleasant to unstable and erratic. During the trial, Muybridge undercut his own insanity case by indicating that his actions were deliberate and premeditated, but he also showed impassive indifference and uncontrolled explosions of emotion. The jury dismissed the insanity plea, but acquitted the photographer on the grounds of "justifiable homicide", disregarding the judge's instructions. The episode interrupted his horse photography studies, but not his relationship with Stanford, who had arranged for his criminal defence

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Created 2015-10-29 by Anna St.Onge.

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