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Friday, December 27, 2013

The One Photograph Edweard Muybridge Is Known to Have Taken in Seattle

Posted by on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Continuing Alan J. Stein Week™ on Slog (this guy!), the Seattle historian also tipped us off last week to the fact that photo-innovator Eadward Muybridge is known to have shot at least one picture in Seattle, of Seattle.

It's here, and it was taken from the base of Madison Street looking upward from the water. VERY COOL. Stein said he thinks Muybridge stopped in Seattle briefly, traveling by water.

Having heard one interesting thing, my born-reporter husband David Quigg goes chasing down interesting for days. He's unearthed a couple more Muybridge delights, including the first filmed kiss, which is notably between two naked women.

He may have chosen to photograph the kiss with two women because in the context of Victorian culture this was more likely to be seen as innocent.

Whatever you say,

Here's a GIF of a fully dressed—some might say overdressed for an anatomical study of movement—jumping, and here's a GIF of a naked man pole-vaulting.


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dnt trust me 1
Muybridge rocks my socks. Great links.
Posted by dnt trust me on December 27, 2013 at 1:20 PM · Report this
That kiss isn't a film, it's actually a photographic motion study. Muybridge's work was a progenitor to film and he wasn't alone in making motion studies at the time. Another photographer Étienne-Jules Marey made some really incredible work. These guys were interested in using photography for the advancement of science.
Posted by forfuturereference on December 27, 2013 at 4:46 PM · Report this
Would also have been nice of your guest slogger to have mentioned the outstanding work of Paul Dorpat who originally stumbled upon this piece of esoterica, or at least published about it in his book Then And Now, back in 2011.

Here's his site:

And to quote Dorpat, one of Seattle's finest historians, on the veracity of this particular curio "While revealing in its several parts this early 1890s look east up Madison Street from the trolley line’s terminal turntable is also a puzzle. A friend found this image in the Kingston Museum at Kingston on the Thames, England. It is attributed to Kingston’s most famous son, Eadweard Muybridge. The photographer-inventor returned to his hometown in 1895 after more than forty years of mostly taking photographs in the American West and performing some of the earliest experiments in motions pictures.

The puzzle is this. As far as I have been able to determine none of Muybridge’s biographers have ever put him in Seattle. The famous photographer was on Puget Sound in 1871 taking photographs for the U.S. Lighthouse service but that is at least 20 years before this lanternslide was recorded.

The best chance for having Muybridge here in time to take this photograph would be in the spring of 1893 when he left the West Coast for the last time. He was heading to Chicago to show his rudimentary “animal locomotion” pictures in his own “Zoopraxographical Hall” at the 1893 World Columbia Expedition in. But the Expo opened in May and this presents another problem for this scene includes a street broadside advertising an event for July 18. Perhaps the Englishman was late in getting to Chicago.

Another curiosity of this image is this; it is the only identified Seattle scene of any sort included with the Muybridge bequest of his life’s work to his hometown museum. The caption “Washington, Seattle, Madison Street Terraces” does have a Muybridge fit. San Francisco was the photographer’s west coast home base, so the Madison street cable line would have interested him, especially this part of it climbing to First Hill. Locals claimed that this was the second steepest incline in the trolley industry. Of course, the steepest trolley ride of all was in San Francisco."
Posted by forfuturereference on December 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM · Report this
@3 Thanks for the info. I love Dorpat's Now and Then work. I have one of his books and went to a reading - or, really, viewing - of his many years ago. He's a very engaging speaker. I also spied him taking a photograph of the New Year's Eve crowd at the Seattle Center House a handful of years ago. He is something of a city treasure.
Posted by floater on December 27, 2013 at 9:23 PM · Report this

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