Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion

Eadweard_Muybridge_-_Animal_Locomotion,_Plate_74_-_Google_Art_Project Eadweard_Muybridge_-_Animal_Locomotion,_Plate_388_-_Google_Art_Project

The Library is lucky to hold a number of original 1887 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal photographic study Animal Locomotion. In total we hold a representative selection of 63 plates from Muybridge’s total set of 781, which were purchased for the use of our students in June 1917. GSA Governors’ Minutes of 13th June note that “price not obtained from America yet” and “subject to approval of Convenor”.

In the 1880s, the University of Pennsylvania sponsored Muybridge to photograph the movement of people in a studio and animals from Philadelphia Zoo. The human models, either entirely nude or very lightly clothed, were photographed against a measured grid background in a variety of action sequences, including walking up or down stairs, hammering on an anvil, carrying buckets of water, or throwing water over one another. Muybridge produced sequences showing farm, industrial, construction, military and household work. He also photographed athletic activities such as baseball, cricket, boxing, fencing and wrestling.

Between 1883 and 1886, Muybridge made more than 100,000 images. He used multiple cameras to produce separate images printed side-by-side, but which could also be projected in quick succession by a zoopraxiscope. In 1887, the photos were published as a massive portfolio of 781 plates and 20,000 photographs. The volumes proved seminal to the history of both photography and biomechanics.


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