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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

Eadweard Muybridge
American, 1830–1904

Animal Locomotion, Plate 624

Collotype, 1887
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Price, 1985.110

When a horse runs, do all four feet leave the ground at the same time? That was the question Leland Stanford, former governor of California and President of the Central Pacific Railroad, wanted to answer when he hired the photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

Born in England and baptized Edward Muggeridge, Muybridge changed his name when he immigrated to the United States at the age of 20. Settling in San Francisco, Muybridge first gained recognition in the 1860s for his photographs of the Yosemite forest. In the 1870s, Muybridge’s attention turned to the photography of motion. Working at Stanford’s Palo Alto estate, he attempted to capture the motion of a galloping horse in a sequence of still photographs. Twelve cameras, with strings attached to an electric shutter on each, were placed along a track. The running horse would trip or break the string, which would open the camera’s shutter for 1/2000th of a second. Muybridge succeeded in creating images that allow us to see a part of the world not easily discernible—including the fact that all four of a running horse’s hooves do in fact leave the ground at the same.