The Horse in Motion – Muybridge’s “Flying Horse” gallops in Palo Alto

Α series of cabinet cards by Eadweard Muybridge, including six cards that each show a sequential series of six to twelve “automatic electro-photographs” depicting the movement of a horse.

Palo Alto Stock Farm Horse Barn, also known as Stanford Red Barn / Image source

The series became the first example of chronophotography, an early method to photographically record the passing of time, mainly used to document the different phases of locomotion for scientific study.

In order to take the photograph, Muybridge built a stage with 24 cameras with a trip wire and discover galloping horses did momentarily have all four hooves leave the ground. This discovery was a precursor to the technology for the motion picture industry.

The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge. “Sallie Gardner,” owned by Leland Stanford; running at a 1:40 gait over the Palo Alto track, 19th June 1878 / Animation source

Muybridge’s work was commissioned by Leland Stanford, the industrialist, former Governor of California and horseman, who was interested in horse gait analysis. Leland Stanford bought a property in 1876, approximately 650 acres along San Francisquito Creek. In the following years, Stanford acquired about 8,000 acres of land in the surrounding area. The red barn was the center of the stock farm in the early years, and additionally there was a carriage house, a colt barn and a training barn.

In c.1878, photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s series of stop-action photographs of horses running Sallie Gardner at a Gallop was photographed at Palo Alto Stock Farm Horse Barn.

The stage with 24 cameras / Images source 1Image source 2

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