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Four things I did not know about Edweard Muybridge

Y’all know Edweard Muybridge, right? He settled a very old argument and kind of fathered the moving picture in the process.

Horsey folk had argued for ages whether a running horse ever had all four hooves off the ground at once. Muybridge was a well-known photographer in California when Leland Stanford (former governor, race horse owner and founder of Stanford University) hired him to answer the question. Took him years to work it out, but Muybridge eventually wired a bunch of cameras along a track with tripwires, ran a horse down it and got the answer.

Which was: everybody was wrong. People in the NO camp believed a horse always had at least one hoof on the ground. People in the YES camp thought they were all four off the ground, with the front legs aiming frontwards and the back legs aiming backwards. Like a rocking horse. Whee! Turns out…well, look at the picture.

Muybridge went on to take upwards of 100,000 photos of people and animals in motion. Which is, to this day, a cherished reference for animators and illustrators. Lumme some Muybridge!

So anyhow, I was looking up the date of that first definitive horse series (1877) and I discovered four things about him I did not know before.

He was English. Born in Southwest London in 1830. He moved to the States in his mid-twenties. He was born Edward Muggeridge, but apparently decided his name needed a little weirding up. Which explains why you’ve never heard of an Edweard or a Muybridge before (unless you have, in which case — do tell!). He got some nasty head injuries in stagecoach accident in San Fran, which may have left him a little…cracked.

Also, he killed a guy and got away with it. He discovered his wife had taken a lover — a certain Major Larkyns — tracked him down, said “Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge and here’s the answer to the letter you sent my wife” — whipped out a gun and BANG. Shot him dead.

His insanity plea (on account of his brain damage) was rejected, but it was ruled a justifiable homicide anyway. On account of, diddling other men’s wives was considered really unacceptable then.

Oh, a fifth and final thing — he then dropped his son off at an orphanage, assuming him to be Larkyn’s boy. Poor bastard grew up to look just like Muybridge.

Good weekend, folks!


Comment from Oldcat
Time: February 25, 2012, 12:54 am

I remember a parody of that question somewhere – the answer man said that at no time do any of a horses hooves hit the ground.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 25, 2012, 3:14 am

It is astonishing how very, very weird the private lives of the creative and innovative can be. Very, Very Weird

Comment from Mike James
Time: February 25, 2012, 5:11 am

I have no problem with cuckolded husbands shooting some lousy son of a bitch dead, if he catches wifey in bed with him.

Sorry, I just don’t. Fuck ’em if they can’t sneak a poke.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: February 25, 2012, 4:40 pm

I’ve never understood why paintings from that era (whatever era it is) always portrayed the horses as being about 15-20 feet long with these tiny humans on their backs. The hunting horse looked alien compared to those in images of war. I know that the breeds used for war were different than those for the hunt, but why is the painting style so different? Or am I generalizing based upon a few well-known paintings?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 26, 2012, 12:18 am

I can only assume they were exaggerating the characteristics horse owners loved at the time. The most famous painter of horses was Stubbs (that’s him in the inset above) and his horses look like complete aliens.

I guess it’s a bit like saying, “how come the girls in Heavy Metal all had huge tits, impossibly small waists and big chunky asses? It looks so unrealistic!”

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 26, 2012, 3:18 am

I made a movie of my simulation of that pendulum wave thing Stoaty posted last week and put it on YouTube. I love Mathematica. It is such a lovely piece of software. It can export animations direct to QuickTime.


Amazing to think that this was with a set-up costing less than $2000 including all the software, big monitors, terabyte hard drives etc.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: February 26, 2012, 3:23 am

Actually that makes sense, especially when I think about how war horses are portrayed as massively muscled chargers, rearing with lips pulled back as though they were ready to rend flesh. I never considered that artists would idealize animals in the same manner that they idealize people.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: February 26, 2012, 6:45 am

“His insanity plea (on account of his brain damage) was rejected, but it was ruled a justifiable homicide anyway. On account of, diddling other men’s wives was considered really unacceptable then.”

Same code seems to apply on many of our underclass estates too. Only you need to substitute ‘babymamma’ for ‘wife’.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 26, 2012, 1:31 pm

I have always (since I first grasped the concept in my high school years) cultivated an air of unpredictability and potential madness that might be triggered on a whim. In high school it worked this way: when sucker-punched in the jaw (a poorly chosen and executed punch by a 15 year-old, I smiled and laughed a little laugh and picked up a handy cafeteria chair. I was then promptly restrained by spectators who would have otherwise done nothing. To those who protested my tactics, I explained that the object of a fight was to win and that was what I intended to do; all said with a relaxed air and happy smile. I had taken a punch but won the battle and wasn’t ever challenged again.

Oddly enough I found that the same approach (less physically expressed but simiarly displayed) served me well in large-corporatation internecine warfare. So, while I hate to recommend feigned madness and (subtle threats of) violence to anyone, they’ve always worked for me.

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 26, 2012, 1:35 pm

Mrs Vegetable says that I have to take my medication, tell all of you that the crazy isn’t faked and then shut-up or she’ll hit me.

Comment from Gromulin
Time: February 26, 2012, 5:03 pm

Meanwhile, an unsuspecting Badger was re-purposed:


Comment from Ric Locke
Time: February 26, 2012, 9:05 pm

Vegetable: Tell Mrs. Vegetable that your meds are satisfactory. What you described is U.S. foreign policy from roughly 1945 to 1976, i.e., back when it worked.


Comment from Nina
Time: February 26, 2012, 10:07 pm

And we are so far away from that now it’s sad.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 27, 2012, 1:48 am

My first day living in NYC (1975)I sat on a crowded bench in a subway train watching the guy opposite me. . .who had all the space he needed. He was muttering to himself, and continuially brushing the top of his right hand with his left, staring intently at the process all the while. I could never actually bring myself to adopt the strategy, but, yeah, Some Vegetable, crazy works. Although–possibly slightly less so these days, as we have become an increasingly inclusive society.

Comment from ahombre
Time: February 27, 2012, 12:39 pm

Very good article, nice piece of information. Thank you for sharing

Comment from David Gillies
Time: February 27, 2012, 1:08 pm

You know what they say: there’s always a nutter on the bus. Look around. If you can’t see him, it’s you.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 27, 2012, 2:37 pm

Hey, I think this spambot insulted you guys:

I rarely leave a response, but i did a few searching and wound up here S. Weasel. And I actually do have a few questions for you if you usually do not mind. Could it be only me or does it give the impression like some of the remarks appear as if they are left by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting at other social sites, I would like to follow anything new you have to post. Could you make a list of the complete urls of all your social pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

Comment from Aadvard the 7th
Time: February 27, 2012, 2:40 pm

Diddling other man’s wife is a sport so bizarre that it makes toenail clipping collection seem perfectly rational.

And aside, I was unable to locate any instance of revenge killin’ for busted toenail clipping harvest.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: February 27, 2012, 2:48 pm

The spambot suggested we have dain bramage? Not me. My brother Checkus Aurelius, now, that’s who you have to watch.

Comment from Rumbold Melchett St. Hogmanay of York
Time: February 27, 2012, 3:07 pm

I rarely leave a response, but when I do, I make certain to sound like I learned English from my Rajputi grandfather Bapoo who served in Kipling’s Eleventh Regiment of Light Hanjari Fusileers.

Stay responsive to your social pages, my friends.
It’s the wireless gizmodos that you have to put in airplane mode.

Comment from Oceania
Time: February 27, 2012, 8:07 pm

We’ve come or your Sheep.
Next – your Immigrants!


Comment from Mono The Elder
Time: February 27, 2012, 10:38 pm

Perhaps the bump on the head is why the horses look all weird?

(and also in an act of shameless promoting, I has forum now! Feel free to drop on by! http://whitefeather.forumotion.com/)

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 28, 2012, 12:04 am

Muybridge was just following in the footsteps of US Representative Dan Sickles, who shot the US Attorney for DC in Lafayette Park for the same reason – and got off on “insanity”.

Poor bastard grew up to look just like Muybridge.

ITYM “Poor non- bastard.”

This reminds me of the case of Confederate general Earl “Buck” Van Dorn, who was killed (at his HQ) by an outraged husband. I had a friend named Van Dorn, who was a remote relative; he had a copy of A Soldier’s Honor, a 1902 book exonerating “Buck” compiled by his sister.

According to Sis, the killer was really a traitorous Yankee agent, and his charges of adultery were just a cover-up. So depraved was this cowardly murderer that to support his lie, he sent his daughter away to be raised in a convent school – effectively calling her a bastard.

I wonder how common that was.

Nowadays, of course, DNA comparison can settle such questions; except that a poll showed about 98% of medical workers would not tell a husband if DNA showed the child was not his.

(Has there been any move, covert, overt, official, or private, to check Prince Harry?)

On the subject of Brits who went mad in California, I give you Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

Comment from Mike James
Time: February 28, 2012, 12:37 pm

If some miserable “medical worker” dared to keep paternity information from me, such as whether I had been made a fool of to such grave extent, I flatter myself that I possess enough integrity to horsewhip the cocksucker.

There is no excuse for participation in cuckolding a man. None. Ever.

Comment from Frmeda
Time: May 29, 2012, 3:14 pm

I do not know. It is an interesting man. He risked …

Comment from gklinik
Time: July 9, 2012, 2:34 pm

Very good article, nice information. Thank you for sharing! Very intressting your post!

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