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Eadweard Muybridge glass positives and prints


Held at: Philadelphia History Museum [Contact Us]15 South 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia History Museum. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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"Eadweard James Muybridge was born on April 9, 1830 as Edward Muggeridge at Kingston-on-Thames, England, the son of John and Susannah (Smith) Muggeridge. In 1852, Muybridge immigrated to the United States. After a brief career in the printing business, Muybridge studied photography and eventually gained recognition for his landscape photographs of the American West. In 1872, the railroad tycoon and then-governor of California, Leland Stanford, asked Muybridge to help settle a $25,000 bet. The bet required Muybridge to take photographs of a running horse to prove that it had all four feet in the air at some point. However, his attempt was inconclusive. Five years later, [in] 1877, Muybridge improved the mechanics of his photographic process using a bank of cameras with mechanically tripped shutters. With his new system, he photographed Stanford's horse Occident and proved that a running horse indeed lifted all four feet at some point. This incident inspired him to continue the study of animals in motion, a new venture in the field of science and photography.

"With the financial backing of Stanford, Muybridge obtained more action photographs of animals culminating in the publication of The Horse in Motion (1877) and The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, A Series of Photographs Illustrating the Consecutive Positions Assumed by Animals in Performing Various Movements (1878). In 1878, Scientific American and La Nature published reproductions of photographs in The Horse in Motion. Subscribers could place these reproductions in their zoetrope to view the stop motion photographs in rapid succession. Muybridge took the animating capability of the zoetrope further by inventing the zoopraxiscope in 1879. The zoopraxiscope projected images of slides placed on a large disk onto a screen. Muybridge spent most of 1881-1882 in Paris and London exhibiting the zoopraxiscope and lecturing on animal motion.

"Muybridge's ties to Philadelphia began when Fairman Rogers, then head of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Thomas Eakins, artist and professor of drawing and painting at the Academy, corresponded with Muybridge about his Palo Alto photographs. In 1883, Rogers invited Muybridge to give two lectures at the Academy. Also in 1883, several important Philadelphians, including J.B. Lippincott and the [P]rovost [of the University of Pennsylvania], William Pepper, attended a meeting...[in Pepper's office]. During this meeting, the men decided to provide Muybridge with the grounds of the Veterinary Hospital and a $5,000 advance to begin work on the landmark study, Animal Locomotion. Starting in 1884, the University constructed [an] outdoor studio for Muybridge near 36th and Pine. The outdoor studio consisted of a three-sided black shed. White strings hung on the back wall of the shed to form a grid to measure the movement of a human or animal as it passed through the frames. For the production of the Animal Locomotion study, he [Muybridge] improved his photographic techniques by using dry plate technology, rather than the wet plate technology he had previously used. He also equipped his three batteries of twelve cameras each with electronically released shutters, allowing shorter exposure times.

"The Animal Locomotion study contains 781 photographs of males and females performing common actions, often nude; physically deformed males and females from the Philadelphia Hospital and a variety of animal species from the Philadelphia Zoo. Models also included students and faculty from the University of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. This study, completed in 1887 and published under the sponsorship of the University, would prove to be of great use to artists, anatomists, physiologists, and athletes.

"After the completion of Animal Locomotion, Muybridge returned to his birthplace to reside. At the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he ran "Zoopraxographical Hall" in 1893 for which the University of Pennsylvania received an award. He later published Descriptive Zoopraxography (1893) and The Human Figure in Motion (1901). Muybridge died in England on May 8, 1904, survived by wife Flora Shallcross."


Quoted text from: Amy Miller, DiAnna Hemsath, and Mary D. McConaghy. Finding aid to "Eadweard Muybridge Collection, 1870-1981," University of Pennsylvania University Archives and Records Center collection UPT 50 M993. September 2008. Accessed November 26, 2014.

This collection consists of approximately 400 collotype plates from Muybridge's 1887 Animal Locomotion series, as well as about 500 glass positives. The glass positives, contact printed from the original negatives, were used to create the master copy negatives from which the collotype plates of Animal Locomotion were printed. The glass positives are of individual frames; this collection has multiple glass positives from various studies, but does not necessarily include all of the images that constituted each study. The collotype plates, which were published in 1887, each depict an entire study from the Animal Locomotion series.

An item level inventory of this collection is available on-site.

Gift of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, 1944 (accession 44.29)

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Philadelphia History Museum directly for more information.

Philadelphia History Museum
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Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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