Muybridge Links


Bhutan Vanguards
2000 Roster

Misapplied Locomotions

Eadweard Muybridge is a celebrated figure in the history of photography. Though he began his picture-taking career in the 1860s as a landscape photographer he is today best known for his work in the photography of movement. His pictures of the horse Occident were used to settle the debate over whether or not all four legs of a horse were in flight at one time (they are.) His zoopraxiscope invention was an early movie projector prototype. In 1887 he published a book of 781 photographs called Animal Locomotion. The folio sized plates were sequential photographs of animals, children, birds, men, and women all in some form of motion. Because of his influence on people like the Lumiere Brothers and Thomas Edison, Muybridge has been called the "father of the motion picture."

The issue of "fatherhood" in Muybridge's case is poignant. He himself was never a biological father although for almost six months he did think he was the father of a child named Floredo Helios Muybridge. This boy's first name comes from his real mother, Flora Stone and Helios, his middle name, was a moniker Muybridge used in the early days of his career in photography.

In 1872 Muyybridge, age 42 met and fell in love with Flora Shallcross Stone, age 21 in San Francisco. Flora had already been married and divorced and after a short courtship Muybridge and Flora were married. Two years later, in April 1874 Flora gave birth to a son, Floredo. Muybridge naturally assumed the child was his son. However, the young Flora had been having an affair with a man-about-town named Harry Larkyns. Floredo was Larkyns' son. Muybridge discovered the deception in October 1874. On October 17, during a social event, Muybridge took out a pistol and to the horror of the assembled guests, shot and killed his wife's lover.

Muybridge was jailed for the crime and his murder trial took place in February 1875. Muybridge's lawyer, Wirt Pendegast, created a defense that claimed his client's rage was the result of a serious head injury he suffered 14 years earlier. The injury was sustained in 1860 during an accident that occurred while Muybridge was riding in a stagecoach en route to New York from San Francisco. The head injury created by this misapplication of locomotion would create the necessary conditions that permitted Muybridge to suspend moral principles and murder his wife's lover. This argument proved convincing. The jury acquitted Muybridge. Even though he got away with murder, Muybridge was disgraced in San Francisco and he soon left on a trip to Panama and Central America.

Flora for her part died a few months after the trial in July. Floredo was adopted and placed in a Catholic school. When Muybridge returned from Central America he removed Floredo from the Catholic school and placed him in a Protestant orphanage. Eventually Floredo moved to Sacramento and found work as an apprentice harness maker. Indications are that Muybridge treated the boy as his own. However, Floredo apparently did not develop well intellectually and this disappointed Muybridge considerably. An apparent relationship existed between the two at least until 1894 when Muybridge left America to spend the rest of his life back in his native England. Just before leaving he gave Floredo a photograph of himself and a gold watch. The two never saw one another again. Muybridge died in England on May 8, 1904. There was no provision for Floredo in his will.

Floredo spent the rest of his life in California working as a handyman and a gardener. On February 1, 1944 at the age of 70, Floredo died when a truck accidentally hit him. That Floredo should meet his end by such a misapplication of locomotion does not seem inappropriate.

A sage once said, "That which moves, moves neither in the place in which it is, nor in that in which it is not." (Zeno of Elea, c. 450 B.C.) How, then, can that which does not move be captured at all, much less by a photograph or a tale of misapplied locomotions?

Muybridge Links

  • Robert Bartlett Haas, Muybridge:Man in Motion. University of California: 1976

The COSMIC BASEBALL ASSOCIATION would like to express its thanks to Tim Everson, a Local History Officer in Kingston, U.K., for providing a reference to useful information about Muybridge and his family.

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Eadweard Muybridge- Season 2000 Cosmic Player Plate
Published: June 20, 2000
Copyright © 2000 by the Cosmic Baseball Association