Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge was born on 9 April 1830 the son of John and Susanna Muggeridge. Baptised as Edward James Muggeridge at All Saints Church, Kingston, he later changed his surname first to Muygridge, then to Muybridge and spelt his Christian name as Eadweard.


Muybridge was a young man when he left Kingston for America. The exact year of his departure is uncertain, but by 1856 he was established as a bookseller and a publisher's agent in San Francisco, trading under the name EJ Muygridge. In 1860 he was injured in a stage coach crash whilst travelling overland from San Francisco to New York for a visit to Europe. Muybridge returned to America in about 1866 to become a professional photographer. He had spent the last few years trying to get over the effects of his coach crash which had injured his head. He had not been idle, however and succeeded in inventing a special kind of plate-printing process and also a machine for washing clothes whilst he was in England.

 

Famous for proving a horse could fly, Muybridge would adapt the very latest technology to his ends, he proved his theory by getting a horse to trigger the shutters of a bank of cameras. This experiment proved indisputably for the first time what no eye had previously seen - that a horse lifts all four hooves off the ground at one point in the action of running. Seeking a means of sharing his groundbreaking work, he invented the zoopraxiscope, a method of projecting animated versions of his photographs as short moving sequences, which anticipated subsequent developments in the history of cinema.

 

In addition to Muybridge exhibition at Tate Britain, 2011, his birthplace Kingston upon Thames celebrates and investigates its unique Muybridge Collection with special exhibitions at Kingston Museum and at the Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University.