Frost, Eakins, Muybridge, and the wonderful world of Coconino

Drawing by A.B. Frost (c) Coconino

Drawing by A.B. Frost. An instantaneous sketch!
Cocinino Classics, at:
http://www.coconino-world.com/

Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and studied under Thomas Eakins (who would later work with Muybridge) from 1879 to 1881. Frost and Eakins were both members of the Philadelphia Sketch Club.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._B._Frost

Frost was born in Philadelphia, later spent some time in England, and while there illustrated work for Lewis Carroll.

“After his return from England in 1878, A.B. Frost started studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He got acquainted with the photographic experiments of Eadweard Muybridge, which inspired him to publish his first sequential stories.”
(From Lambiek.net – the Dutch online Comiclopedia)
http://www.lambiek.net/artists/f/frost_ab.htm

Long ago I saw an excellent, comprehensive, informative and thought-provoking essay on the web (in French) about Frost, at coconino-world, but it subsequently disappeared. It was there all the time at a different URL:
http://www.old-coconino.com/sites_auteurs/ab-frost/Menus/mn_article.htm#

Part of a Frost cartoon sequence. Scribner’s Magazine, June 1890.

The English translation also came and went, but I’ve managed to excavate it, and you can read it here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20030514043905/http://web.nwe.ufl.edu/~ronan/ThierryS.html

Extracts:

“One cannot imagine a historical situation more propitious for the influence of a pioneer of comics by the photographic revolution. The direct and original application of Muybridge’s and Eakins’ research to Frost’s humorous drawings defines a new subject for graphic exploration : the space of dynamic transformations which operate between images and permit the reader to mentally reconstitute movement.”

Stuff and Nonsense, 1884

Said this artist “Now don’t you suppose
An intelligent man like me knows
How a horse ought to go
Yet you say I don’t know
And believe what a photograph shows.”

“One of Frost’s cartoons … evokes this polemic between the “idealists” of movement and the Muybridgian “naturalists” …  Why do so many different civilizations use this quite impossible depiction ? It is because it cannot be interpreted in any other way, the pictogram very obviously signifies a cantering horse, and cannot be confused with anything else.”

I don’t know where it first appeared, but this cartoon was reproduced in a collection of his published work, Stuff and Nonsense, by A.B. Frost and C. Frost (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons 1884).

Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier 'Self-Portrait in the Studio'. From: Gustave Larrounet, 'Meissonier'

The artist is perhaps intended to be Meissonier, who altered one of his paintings after he saw Muybridge’s images of the correct positions of a moving horse’s limbs.

If you have any interest at all in graphic storytelling, do please check out Coconino-World – itself a graphic masterpiece, and a project of great integrity and accomplishment.

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