A documentary film on Life and Legacy of Eadweard Muybridge



On April 9, Edward James Muggeridge (Eadweard Muybridge’s original name) is born in Kingston upon Thames, England.


Muggeridge emigrates to America and begins selling books in New York.


Muggeridge moves to San Francisco and opens a bookstore at 113 Montgomery Street. He changes his name to Muggridge and then Muygridge.


On July 2, Muygridge leaves San Francisco by Butterfield Overland Stage coach for the East Coast on his way to sail back to England. En route,  the stagecoach crashes near Fort Worth, Texas and Muygridge suffers a serious head injury.

He moves to England for medical treatment and to recuperate.


Muygridge returns to San Francisco and joins a partner in a photography store.


In the summer and fall Muygridge makes his first photographic trip to Yosemite Valley.


The San Francisco directory lists “Edward J. Muybridge landscape photographer, 415 Montgomery,” the first official record of a name change to Muybridge.

Muybridge begins selling his Yosemite photographs under the studio name Helios.

Muybridge is commissioned by the U.S. War Department to take photographs of Alaska on an expedition led by Major General Henry Halleck, Commander of the Pacific. These are the first photographs of the territory following its purchase from Russia by the United States, the first of native Tlingit people, and the first of the region to be widely seen.


On May 10, Leland Stanford drives the golden spike into the last railroad tie at Promontory Summit, Utah marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad and the opening of the West to mass settlement.


Muybridge spends much of the year photographing landmarks in Northern California, including the laying of the cornerstone of the San Francisco Mint, and the new amusement park Woodward’s Gardens.


Muybridge produces a series on lighthouses along the Pacific Coast for the U.S. Light House Board.

On May 20, Muybridge, 41, marries Flora Shallcross Stone, who is half his age.


First public identification of Muybridge with first name spelled Eadweard.  Muybridge is known both as Eadweard and Edward over the next few years.

Muybridge photographs the home of Leland Stanford, ex-Governor of California and racehorse breeder. He is hired by Stanford to photograph his horses in motion at a Sacramento race track.

Muybridge returns to Yosemite and produces spectacular large format photographs of the valley.


Muybridge produces his first photograph of a horse in motion, a blurry image of Stanford’s horse Occident. The photograph is noted in the press, and reproduced as a lithograph by Currier & Ives, but the original quickly disappears never to be seen again.

Muybridge is commissioned by the U.S. Army to photograph the Modoc Indian War, as U.S. soldiers force a band of resistant Modoc from their ancestral homelands in Northern California onto a reservation in Oregon.

Muybridge, on a commission from Leland Stanford, photographs the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads.


In April, Flora gives birth to a son, Florado Helios Muybridge.

On October 16, Eadweard discovers Flora is having an affair and that Florado appears to be the son of her lover, Harry Larkyns. Muybridge travels eight hours to Calistoga and shoots Larkyns dead.

On December 8, Muybridge is indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Harry Larkyns. A few weeks later Flora files for divorce and alimony.


After a three day trial, on February 6 the all-male jury, all but one of whom are married, finds Muybridge not guilty.

A few weeks later, Muybridge leaves on a photographic assignment for Panama and Guatemala, where he goes by the name Eduardo Santiago Muybridge.

Shortly after the trial, Flora falls ill.  On July 18, Flora dies of a “spinal complaint and inflammatory rheumatism.” Muybridge returns to San Francisco from Central America in November.


Muybridge’s reputation is growing. His slides of Panama, Alaska, and Yosemite are projected for the Photographic Art Society, San Francisco. They are also shown in Philadelphia.

Muybridge places Florado in an orphanage.


Muybridge publishes the first of his San Francisco panoramas.

Muybridge returns to photographing horses for Stanford. Working with more advanced technology and better chemicals, he captures a clear image of Occident pulling a sulky behind at a rapid pace.


On Stanford’s Palo Alto Horse Farm, Muybridge builds an array of cameras, rigged with electric shutters. Before a contingent of press, Muybridge first photographs Stanford’s trotter Abe Edgington pulling a carriage behind, and then his mare Sallie Gardner ridden by a jockey on her back. Muybridge produces a sequence of images moving faster than the human eye can see, an unprecedented achievement. The press hail a “new era in photography” and describe Muybridge’s feat as “second only, among the marvels of the age, to the wonderful discoveries of the telephone and phonograph.”

Muybridge applies for a U.S. patent for his sequenced camera shutter, with an electrical release.

Scientific American publishes an article on the motion studies, with drawings based on the photos of Abe Edgington. The magazine suggests pasting pictures on strips for zoetrope viewing.


Muybridge receives U.S. patent 212865: Method and Apparatus for Photographing Objects in Motion.

Muybridge returns to Stanford’s farm in Palo Alto, California to photograph more motion studies of horses and other animals.  He begins photographing humans in motion for the first time.

Muybridge adapts his motion sequence photographs into painted images for his invention the Zoopraxiscope, an early projector of moving images.


On January 16, Muybridge gives his first public presentation with his zoopraxiscope to an exclusive gathering hosted by his patron Leland Stanford at his San Francisco mansion.  In May, Muybridge puts on a second show for the general public and press at the San Francisco Art Association. The Daily Alta California writes: “Nothing was wanting but the clatter of hoofs upon the turf and an occasional breath of steam from the nostrils, to make the spectator believe that he had before him genuine flesh-and-blood steeds.”


Muybridge travels the United States and Europe with his zoopraxiscope, projecting moving pictures of humans and animals in motion. In France, he exhibits the zoopraxiscope at the home of Etienne-Jules Marey, the world-famous physiologist, and at the Paris home of Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, the French painter, who famously changed how he painted horses after observing Muybridge’s work.


Muybridge lectures throughout England, including at the prestigious Royal Society and Royal Academy of the Arts.

Stanford publishes The Horse in Motion, a book on the studies authored by his friend Dr. Jacob Stillman. Muybridge believed he would receive a co-author credit, but instead he is only mentioned briefly in passing, as a skilled photographer working on behalf of Stanford’s visionary effort.  Muybridge’s reputation is ruined.

Muybridge’s plans to continue his motion work in Europe with new patrons and partners are shattered. He returns to the United States, where he travels widely delivering zoopraxiscope lectures on animals in motion.

Muybridge sues Stanford for copyright infringement.


Muybridge is invited to work at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the next two years he shoots close to a hundred thousand photographs of humans and animals in motion.


Muybridge loses his case against Stanford.


Muybridge publishes Animal Locomotion, 781 plates from his work at the University of Pennsylvania.


Muybridge continues to lecture throughout the United States.

Muybridge visits Thomas Edison at his home and Muybridge proposes the two inventors work together, combining his zoopraxiscope with Edison’s phonograph to create moving picture shows with sound. Edison declines, but begins developing his own cinema technology.


Muybridge lectures widely in Europe, including in England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Switzerland.


At the Chicago World’s Fair, Muybridge presents his moving images to the public in a hall dubbed Descriptive Zoopraxography, considered the “first commercial motion picture theater.”


Muybridge returns to England.


Muybridge delivers his last known lecture, at the Artists’ Society, St Ives, Cornwall.


Muybridge appears in U.K. census, listed as Edward Mansbridge.


On May 8, Muybridge dies at 2 Liverpool Road, Kingston upon Thames. His death goes largely unnoticed by the press. The crematorium register lists his first name as “Eudweard” and his memorial stone misspells his last name as Maybridge.

See the legacy page on this website for the broad influence Muybridge has had on our modern culture since his death.


Sources: The Compleat Eadweard Muybridge;  Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows;  Edward Ball, The Inventor and the Tycoon; Marc Shaffer, original research for Exposing Muybridge.