9 rue Cadet, Paris

October, 2013. Paris is a black-and-white film. All of the cars, all of the motorbikes and scooters, are black, grey, or white. The people wear black, grey, or white.

The traffic no longer keeps up the continuous klaxon blaring that I remember so well (has there been a change in the law?) I am reminded of Maxim Gorky’s response to the first Lumière films, famously shown in this city in 1895:

“Last night I was in the Kingdom of Shadows. If you only knew how strange it is to be there. It is a world without sound, without colour. Every thing there—the earth, the trees, the people, the water and the air—is dipped in monotonous grey. Grey rays of the sun across the grey sky, grey eyes in grey faces … shadows of a bad engraving.”

Only the vibrant fruit and vegetables outside the shops give the city any colour, which has otherwise leached out of the streets.

I’m staying for several weeks in a studio flat on rue Lafayette, and one day I decide to walk two Metro stops to Cadet. Some years earlier, I had come across a tenuous but possible reference to a link with Eadweard Muybridge, and an address in rue Cadet. It’s a busy, interesting street, alive with lunchtime diners outside cafes, local traders, busy, busy….

Will number 9 still be the pre-1860s building? I have no idea what to expect. Suddenly there it is. If I had been sent to Paris for film location research, to find the spot to represent the 1860s Muybridge connection, here it is, and without much need of a period makeover. In the center of the wide building that is no. 9 there’s an archway, with big open wooden doors.

This 18th-century building is where Chopin gave his first recital in Paris, and was once the home of the gardener of Louis XV. Over the archway is an old sign: PHOTO INDUSTRIELLE. As I walk through the arch the decades peel away in union with the peeling paint on the walls, the scene becomes an Atget photograph of the grimy Paris that in recent times has largely disappeared.

Opposite the arch is a peak-roofed glass-sided greenhouse – or perhaps once a glasshouse studio?

Individual artisan workshops, mostly now storerooms, form the perimeter of the cobbled yard, one side of which is set up as an experimental urban garden. Local workers sit on benches beside the period streetlamps, reading Le Monde to while away their lunch break hour.

Here is the story, as it originally appeared on this blog in 2010.

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In search of ‘Helios’

Onward away ! away his steeds,
Mad with the momentary pause,
Plunge through the scattered clouds !

Helios !

Richard Henry Horne
Prometheus the Fire-bringer (1864)

A few years ago, I noticed that the online catalog of the George Eastman House included an early address for Muybridge – in Paris. Could he really have been located in France in 1864?

Late Summer 1861 he wrote to his uncle that he was leaving for the continent “on business that may detain me some months.” On 3 December 1862 the Daily Alta California reported: ‘A letter from Paris of Oct. 24th says: There has been a great influx of Californians within the past few weeks. […] E.J. Muygridge was here a few days since, but has returned to London…’

I contacted George Eastman House.

Hello, I note that one of the addresses on your Bibliog file (online) for Eadweard Muybridge is:

ADDRESS:
France, Paris — 9 rue Cadet (1864)

This was the address of photographer M. Berthaud. I believe that Muybridge may indeed have been in Paris at this time, but there are no details in any of the biographical works that I have been able to find. Would it be possible to find out where this address came from? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you, Stephen Herbert (Muybridge Consultant, Kingston Museum).

I received the following response:

Dear Mr. Herbert,
Yes, that does seem questionable. I do not have a way of supporting this Paris address and am inclined to delete it from our (new) database (not yet available to offsite research). As a compromise, I have moved it into 2nd place from 1st place in the record. Sorry to be so slow in responding and so unhelpful as well.

Joe R. Struble
Assistant Archivist

So that, I thought, was that. No way to check.

And then days ago, a private collector – finding the “Rue Cadet” address on my website during an internet search –  sent me this.

berne1
On the back of which, is this:

berne2

Yes, the trade name of  Mons. Berne-Bellecour in association with M. Berthaud was – ‘Helios’.

Around 1867, Michel Berthaud became associated with Etienne Berne-Bellecour (active in photography from 1864 to 1870 – was this E. Berne-Bellecour the painter?) who had already established the ‘Helios’ firm – we do not yet know exactly when. By 1867 Muybridge was back in  France, so unless Berne-Bellecour was using the name Helios in 1865-66, or earlier, our Muybridge connection disappears.

(After Bern-Bellecour’s departure in 1870 the firm continued under Berthaud, using the ‘Helios’ name for decades, and with many branches in the 1870s-80s.) [Eves Lebrec]

The possibilities seem almost endless – but here are three:

a) Muybridge worked in France for M. Berne-Bellacour’s company in the 1860s, which used the name Helios as an encompassing title to cover the photographs of more than one partner. This was where Muybridge developed his photographic skills, and accounts for why he isn’t found in the English press (including the photographic periodicals) at that time, and doesn’t seem to have been a member of any British photographic society. Somewhere there is evidence of this French connection, used by the GEH cataloguer.

b) Muybridge, who certainly visited Paris in the 1860s, noted the name Helios at M. Berne-Bellecour’s establishment, and adopted it for the same reason – a trade name would cover the published photographs of more than one photographer – which would tie in with Weston Naef’s suggestion.

c) Complete coincidence.

If (b) or (c), the GEH cataloguer must have noted the address on a dated French carte printed with the ‘Helios’ design, and aware that this was Muybridge’s trade name, made a leap of faith and assumed that he was working from that address at that time.

For a few moments I hoped that I would find an early use of Muybridge’s scratched ‘Helios’ with an acute accent (Hélios), a tiny Roland Barthes ‘punctum’ that would instantly prove a French connection, but as I peered fruitlessly at the various relevant photographs that hope gradually dissolved.

All of the above is circumstantial evidence at best, and proves nothing. But it certainly indicates that there are places to look in an attempt to find out what Muybridge was doing in Europe – including a possibility that he was already deeply involved in photography – in the ‘lost years’ of 1861-66. And if indeed he was involved in a photographic studio then a letter, or dusty ledger, or account book, or agreement  … some scrap that’s survived the century and a half between then and now, is out there waiting to be discovered, somewhere. Somewhere…. [end of blog post]

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And there has been a photographic connection that continues – one of several photographic companies that was set up here in 1861 survived until 1995. There is still a photographic laboratory on one of the floors of the current occupier, the Département Histoire de l’Architecture et Archéologie de Paris & secrétariat de la Commission du Vieux.

But it’s all too easy to be seduced into weaving this location into Muybridge’s life. In reality, any connection is most likely a fantasy, based on one simple error – the assumption that the trade name ‘Helios’ on the back of a carte-de-visite indicated an association with Muybridge. Just a fantasy. But I’m glad I came here to no. 9 rue Cadet, Paris. I’m very glad I came. I sit on a bench and eat my cheese baguette.

https://ejmuybridge.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/in-search-of-helios/

Eadweard – Cast & Creators on Global News tv (Canada)

global2Sara Canning, who plays Flora

Picture 14

“Just based on the photographs [of Muybridge] I’ve tried to fund an essence of who this madman was …  I’ve done a lot of just staring into his eyes….” says co-writer and producer Josh Epstein, explaining on Global News tv how he tried to get a hold on Muybridge’s character and personality.

The seven-minute tv clip is here:

http://globalnews.ca/video/717068/eadweard-muybridge-cast-creators

More location photos soon…..

global1

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

auction: Author’s Edition of Animal Locomotion

quinns-2
Plate from Eadward Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements, 1872-1885, 11 vol. Author’s Edition folio. Est. $12,000-$15,000. Waverly Rare Books image.More Information: http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=63067#.UbBgsY6t76I[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.org
“Waverly Rare Books to auction Author’s Edition of Muybridge’s 1887 Animal Locomotion. FALLS CHURCH, VA.- On June 20th, Waverly Rare Books will auction an extraordinary photographic rarity – an Author’s Edition folio version of Eadweard Muybridge’s (British, 1830-1904) Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements. Initially published in 1887 as an 11-volume set, Animal Locomotion contained a total of 781 plates.
Thirty-seven sets were produced and subsequently purchased by major art institutions, museums and libraries in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. The Public Edition of Animal Locomotion contained 100 plates and was issued by subscription for $100. “The subscriber would examine one of the complete sets in a public institution, then chose his or her favorites,” explained Waverly Rare Books’ director, Monika Schiavo. The Author’s Edition, which is the centerpiece of Waverly’s June 20 catalog auction, originally consisted of 21 plates selected by the author or editor from Muybridge’s complete series of animal locomotion plates. Of those 21 plates, one plate (Plate 465) is missing, leaving 20 plates. “Generally, a single lost plate can reduce a book’s value considerably, but in cases where the book is highly valuable, as is the case with this one, the loss in value is nowhere near as great, as buyers would have few – if any – alternatives,” said Schiavo. Citing auction comparables of the past, Schiavo noted that an Author’s Edition with 21 plates, personally inscribed by Muybridge, sold at Swann Galleries in March 2010 for $48,000.
A copy of a Public Edition with 54 collotype plates sold for $14,900 at Sotheby’s in November 2008. Its condition was a question mark but “likely to be very poor, given the catalog description that said ‘Fragment only – Disbound,’” Schiavo said. In 2007 an album with 100 plates in faux morocco wraps with some dampstaining, minor handling wear, chipping to edges, and library markings sold for $45,000 – triple its high estimate – at Skinner, while a collection of 50 plates sold at Bloomsbury’s in 2012 for 38,000 pounds (approx. $58,200). Other auction records indicate that some individual plates have sold for as much as $5,000.
Described by the Washington Post’s Frank Van Riper as “The Odd Genius Who Froze Motion,” Eadweard Muybridge was one of the most influential and eccentric photographers of all time. His instantly recognizable work merged the art and science of photography in a series of stop-action film sequences that paved the way for the modern motion picture industry. Muybridge’s prescient images have been collected and exhibited by the Tate Gallery, The Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Waverly Rare Books, a division of Quinn’s Auction Galleries, will offer the Eadweard Muybridge Author’s Edition of Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements on June 20, with no reserve and a $12,000-$15,000 estimate. Waverly Rare Books’ June 20 auction will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time. The preview begins on June 15 and continues through and including auction day (see website for hours). The gallery is closed on Sundays. All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee or live via the Internet through http://www.LiveAuctioneers.com. For information on any lot in the sale, call 703-532-5632 or e-mail monika.schiavo@quinnsauction.com.”
(Posted here by Stephen Herbert)

Early Popular Visual Culture

repv20.v011.i01.cover-1

I’m a little late in posting details of a Special Muybridge issue of the Routledge academic journal Early Popular Visual Culture, for which I was pleased to be guest editor. The contents, in no particular order, are as follows:

Early Popular Visual Culture
Volume 11, Issue 1, 2013

Eadweard Muybridge issue : Introduction
Stephen Herbert

A ‘roundup’ of Muybridge-related activity, 2010-2012.

Reflections on time, motion and photomechanics
Jonathan Shaw

This article is a reflection on my own practice and its connection to changing representations of time and movement within photography. In my work as an artist and photographer, I have endeavoured to develop a particular perspective on the relation between the heritage of photomechanical tools, new technologies, memory and space. In what follows, I describe a series of pivotal moments in the formation of this perspective as they exemplify a specific strand of photography, showing how they connect to wider transformations in the field of visual cultures.

Loops and joins: Muybridge and the optics of animation
Esther Leslie

Film is rightly understood to be an art of movement, but stasis plays a role too, from the first films which cranked into seeming life out of stillness to the mechanisms of contemporary animation, which is pervasive in cinema today. This article explores the relationship of stillness and movement in early cinema and pre-cinematic optical technologies, which demand a flick of the wrist to produce movement out of stasis. Muybridge’s sequential photographs found their way into some of these early and later technologies and provided the basis for such demonstration of the emergence of movement out of stillness. If mobility and stillness are concentrated oppositions in Muybridge’s work, so too are the related themes of animation and inanimateness, a partnering that relates less to the analytical dissection of life and more to the evocation of a spirited magic.

Muybridge, authorship, originality
Marta Braun

This article addresses questions concerning photographic authorship and originality, and how these issues relate to the work of Eadweard Muybridge. The subject of legitimacy concerning the scientific nature of many of Muybridge’s photographs is reviewed, considering his retouching, cropping, and rearrangement of images. The role of the University of Pennsylvania’s ‘Muybridge Committee’ is also discussed.

Eadweard Muybridge: Inverted modernism and the stereoscopic vision
Marek Pytel

Eadweard Muybridge’s stereoscopic photographs, published in large numbers before his famous motion sequence series were taken, have had much less exposure, and have been subject to far less research, than his chronophotographic images. This short study of just one of the more enigmatic examples of his stereographs considers some relevant aspects of visual perception, and the circular image, proposing connections between these aspects of Muybridge’s work and the Rotoreliefs of Marcel Duchamp.

Chronophotography in the context of moving pictures
Deac Rossell

This article, originally a talk given at Kingston Museum in 2010, considers the ‘four great chronophotographers’ – Eadweard Muybridge, Étienne-Jules Marey, Georges Demenÿ, and Ottomar Anschütz, and their reputations as ‘inventors of cinema’ – in the context of achievements by lesser known workers including Victor von Reitzner, George William de Bedts, Ernst Kohlrausch, Robert Dempsey Gray, and William Gilman Thompson, many of whom saw a different methodology for making series photographs turn into moving pictures, for different purposes. The article suggests ways in which the story of chronophotography in the context of moving pictures is currently incomplete.

Plus related book reviews.

muybridge6

Muybridge, the inevitable story

momentscaptured_jkt

Well, it was only a matter if time before someone would use Muybridge in a novel that took the basic facts of his life, and added generous helpings of fictional events and characters. From Amazon:

“Moments Captured is the captivating story of two indelible individuals and a shattering murder in late nineteenth-century San Francisco. An epic saga of young America flexing its muscle, it is roughly based on the life of the great photographer Edward Muybridge. Crossing the country with his camera and outsized ambition, Muybridge meets the emancipated young dancer Holly Hughes, and inexorably she becomes the true focus of his life- though a corrupt robber baron interested in Muybridge’s talent for technology comes between them.

Through Seidman’s finely drawn prose, we witness nation-building on a colossal scale, along with the politics of wile, greed, and seduction. With an intense love affair at its center and a true-to-life narrative of art and technology, this novel brings to life one of the most picaresque settings in American history.”

There’s Wild West action aplenty:

“Stagecoach and horsemen were sixty yards from the photographer when a bandit pulled up to the coach and leveled his six-gun right at the driver’s ear. The stagecoach braked. The rider grabbed the bridle of the offside horse and jerked back hard, stopping the horse in its tracks. The bleeding guard sprawled across the seat. A whipped-puppy moan wrenched its way out from the man’s shredded guts. “I got to look at Burt,” the driver pleaded. “He’s hurt real bad!” “Payroll first, then play nursemaid!” The outlaw’s voice was gravelly and commanding, yet something of an Eastern accent – Philadelphia, Baltimore, Muybridge couldn’t be sure – clung to it. Edward found himself creeping closer…..”

And Wild West women, too….

“Still, untimely images of Edith, a skirt dancer he had known, incinerated the remnants of his composure … Pleasure lay diffused everywhere along her lean, suggestive body, and so, in such a mood, she remained avidly in touch with herself, her fingers exploring, slowly palpating a curve, a crevice….”

That’s enough of that. I wonder how many of these imaginary incidents in Muybridge’s life will seep through into factual accounts and our general perception of the man and his work. The book has gained some good, genuine reviews, and I look forward to reading it.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Eadweard Muybridge: Father of the Motion Picture?

Kingston Museum and Heritage Service

Kingston Museum and Heritage Service

And as a final post for 2012, the text of a talk given at Kingston Museum at the opening of the Muybridge: Revolutions exhibition, 2010.

Eadweard Muybridge: Father of the Motion Picture?
Writers dealing with the motion sequence photography of Eadweard Muybridge have traditionally described him as the ‘Father of the Motion Picture’, and the title of this talk is taken from one of the first biographies. In popular accounts of the subject, this is still a major theme. In this talk, Stephen Herbert examines whether this perspective is valid or relevant. Muybridge’s place in Victorian attempts at producing moving images is investigated, together with the historiography of Muybridge in the 20th-Century, when cinema was the dominant visual medium, and onward into the digital age. For each generation, Muybridge’s work has a new meaning that relates to our own experiences and the media of our time.

And you’ll find the rest here:

http://www.stephenherbert.co.uk/muyFATHER.htm

 

Happy New Year!

 

Posted here by Stephen Herbert