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.

===================

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]

=================

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/

Yosemite ‘mammoth’ prints on eBay

Two scarce Muybridge ‘mammoth’ prints of Yosemite Valley scenes are currently on eBay.

The Old Piute. Valley of the Yosemite. Buy it Now: US$14,500

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Yosemite-mammoth-plate-albumen-by-Eadweard-Muybridge-San-Francisco-c-1880-/121030912591?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item1c2e012a4f

Confluence of the Merced and Yosemite Creek. Buy it Now: US$18,000

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Yosemite-mammoth-plate-albumen-by-Eadweard-Muybridge-San-Francisco-c-1880-/121030910002?pt=Art_Photo_Images&hash=item1c2e012032

Or, make an offer.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Corcoran ‘Helios’ exhibition: design photos online

For those of us who were unable to visit the major Muybridge exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington last year, there are several photographs on the website of Reich+Petch, giving a good idea of the aesthetic of the exhibition’s design. This is from their website:

“Corcoran Gallery of Art: Helios – Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change (Travelling Exhibit)

A key design challenge was conveying the significance of Eadweard Muybridge’s visionary ideas to a contemporary audience that is technologically sophisticated. Muybridge was ahead of his time. The visual language established from the earliest meeting with the Gallery was to present his art in a way that dispensed with traditional Victorian vernacular. The resulting design is intentionally devoid of excess.
Client / Corcoran Gallery of Art
Location / Washington, D.C. (travelling)
Size / 9,000 square feet
Scope / Exhibit Design, Graphic Design

Reich+Petch is a multi-disciplinary design group with over 25 years experience. The hallmark of our work and our brand is “experience design” and we are firmly rooted in the importance of the visitor experience. We are inspired by opportunities that allow us to create meaningful and engaging environments that excite the senses and make an emotional connection.

Reich+Petch is a design collaborative including exhibit designers, interior designers, graphic designers and industrial designers as well as architects, technologists, facility planners, and project managers. We have worked in over 20 countries, have appeared in numerous publications and have won many awards. Reich + Petch have created signature projects that have come to define the very clients we work for.”

http://www.reich-petch.com/portfolio/type/exhibit-design/helios-eadweard-muybridge-in-a-time-of-change

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

 

The Horse in Motion – Abe Edgington boudoir print at auction

A rare example of one of the six boudoir prints entitled The Horse in Motion, published in 1878 in San Francisco by the Morse Gallery, is to be auctioned online by Be.Hold – ending 22 September.  From the online auction catalogue for the ‘Collectors’ Joy’ sale:

‘It shows 6 images of  Leland Stanford’s “Abe Edgington.”  There is extensive text on the recto and verso about Muybridge’s work with the “Electro-Photographic Apparatus” as well as advertising of his awards. He announces “Arrangements made for Photographing and Recording the action of Animals in motion, in any part of the World.” This is a rare object. It is in fine undamaged condition, with only the slightest sign of aging.’

http://www.artfact.com/catalog/searchLots.cfm?scp=u&catalogRef=&shw=50&ord=2&ad=ASC&img=0&alF=1&houseRef=&houseLetter=A&artistRef=&areaID=&countryID=&regionID=&stateID=&fdt=0&tdt=0&fr=0&to=0&wa=muybridge&wp=&wo=&nw=&upcoming=0&rp=&hi=&rem=FALSE&cs=0

Suggested bid at present: 1,100 dollars.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

News and Events roundup, February 2011

The lack of posts on this blog recently is certainly not due to a reduction in Muybridge activity. Other pressures have kept me away, so today a quick roundup of some recent happenings.

Roundtable Discussion: Cinema as a Paradigm Shift in Vision

Thursday 27 January.
Speakers from the Muybridge in Kingston programme returned for a group discussion examining how Muybridge’s work formed part of a wider 19th Century shift in vision as a way of understanding the world. We were gathered together within the exhibition space, around us the glowing images of wall-mounted zoopraxiscope discs and lantern slides. Speakers were Dr. Pasi Valiaho, Prof. Esther Leslie, Deac Rossell and Professor Stephen Barber. As Chair of the event (significantly assisted by Alexandra Reynolds) I certainly enjoyed the evening, and judging by the quality of responses from the audience, they did too. Marek Pytel, master animator of Muybridge images, later remarked: “Sitting, talking about perhaps an end of cinema, while surrounded by the very artifacts of its projected beginnings was actually quite moving. Sometimes one takes these things for granted – and one shouldn’t.”

Other events held at Kingston between September 2010 and January 2011 are detailed on the Muybridge in Kingston website.
http://www.muybridgeinkingston.com/event.php

Muybridge workshops

Rich Bunce gives us a taser of the work of his students at one of the recent Muybridge-related workshops:
http://www.richbunce.com/blog/tag/muybridge/

(c) Rich Bunce

Last Muybridge Workshop

Friday, February 25th, 2011

“This week I completed the last of the Muybridge workshops, which have formed part of the education programme at Kingston Museum; run in conjunction with the  Exhibitions on Muybridge’s work at both the Museum and Tate Britain.

The workshops have been great and really enjoyable to run to do which is always a bonus! Here are some highlights from the work…”

Click on the title above to see the work animated on Rich’s website.

Helios opens in San Francisco

Muybridge is back in San Francisco in a big way, starting on Saturday, as the Helios exhibition opened.
SFMOMA Showcases Exhibition: Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change

http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=45299

This first  review questions whether the exhibition should have grasped the thorny subject of attribution:

Photograph of Yosemite Valley from the 'Helios' exhibition

‘Helios: Muybridge in a Time of Change’ review
Kenneth Baker, Chronicle Art Critic
San Francisco Chronicle February 26, 2011 04:00 AM Copyright San Francisco Chronicle.  (Section reproduce here for purposes of review.) Saturday, February 26, 2011

‘…Weston Naef, , a ranking expert on Muybridge’s contemporary E. Carleton Watkins (1829-1916), argues that Muybridge bought the rights to negatives made by others, including Watkins, to market many of the pictures issued under his own name, or under his short-lived commercial moniker, Helios. That Watkins and Muybridge would have connected in the small 19th century world of San Francisco photography seems certain.

The organizer of “Helios,” Corcoran chief curator Philip Brookman, answered Naef’s suspicions by pointing out that some Muybridge landscapes from the period in question include darkroom manipulations, such as the addition of clouds from separate negatives, that appear nowhere in Watkins’ work.

Clearly, over time Muybridge did master the techniques of wet collodion photography and cultivated his own vision of landscape, of history inscribing itself on his time and of his medium’s potential for scientific scrutiny.

Incorporation of the controversy into the SFMOMA presentation – admittedly no small task – might have enriched it. But there is plenty to occupy the eye and mind in the show as it comes.

Muybridge’s innovations went to the brink of cinema, paving the way for the regime of kinetic imagery under which the whole world lives today.

Dwelling in the image world that Muybridge helped create, we inevitably view his work with the slant provided by the famous studies in “Animal Locomotion” first commissioned by railroad baron and university founder Leland Stanford.

“Helios” gathers those sequential pictures – which evidence a bizarre clinical curiosity as well as technical genius on Muybridge’s part – in a depth never seen in an exhibition before.

SFMOMA has appended a small contextualizing roomful of late 19th century American pictures from its own stellar photography collection. But visitors who remember the engrossing 2003 exhibition “Time Stands Still: Eadweard Muybridge and the Instantaneous Photography Movement” at Stanford will wish for more in the way of historical framing.’

Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change: Photographs, books and ephemera. Through June 7. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St., San Francisco. (415) 357-4000. http://www.sfmoma.org.
E-mail Kenneth Baker at kennethbaker@sfchronicle.com.
This article appeared on page E – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/25/DDGE1HT66F.DTL#ixzz1F9b9MxDP

New animated film completed

Previously mentioned on Muy Blog, a new animation has now been finished  – as reported in asahi.com news

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201102220290.html

ANIME NEWS: Director Yamamura completes new short at Canada’s NFB.
by ATSUSHI  OHARA
2011/ 02/23

Muybridge's Strings

(c) 2011 National Film Board of Canada/NHK/Polygon Pictures

Animation artist Koji Yamamura (Mt. Head and Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor) has completed his long-awaited animated short, Muybridge’s Strings, in a coproduction with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and others.

Yamamura took seven years to finish the 12-minute short, slated for release this year….

“I aspired to become an animation creator after seeing NFB works when I was a university student,” Yamamura said. “I had always dreamed of making animated works at the NFB.”

Muybridge’s Strings follows the life of groundbreaking British photographer Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904)…..Yamamura’s animated short also includes a parallel story about a girl growing up in modern Tokyo. The film’s score includes J.S. Bach’s “Crab Canon.”

“I wanted to draw ‘time’ in a documentary style with a poetic manner,” Yamamura said. “I wanted to capture moments of connection of the two stories that seem related to each other at one point, yet detached at another.”

The director said he came up with the idea immediately after completing Mt. Head in 2002. Yamamura sounded out the NFB for a possible collaboration through an animation creator he met at a French film festival. Later, Yamamura found a producer who was interested in his works and willing to join forces with him.

Yamamura looked for financiers from Japan while he worked on Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor. He began full-scale work on Muybridge’s Strings after gaining consent from Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) and CG animation studio Polygon Pictures Inc. as co-producers.

Yamamura spent about two years in Japan drawing key sketches for the project. Later, he spent five weeks in a wintry Montreal, where the NFB is located, late last year for editing, sound effects and other production work….

Yamamura is the first Japanese director to produce an animation at the NFB.

“(At the NFB), everyone from legendary masters to artists younger than myself is spending a great deal of time working on projects. It is like a school, with each artist interacting with one another.

“Their artistic creativeness is highly respected, but that doesn’t mean they can make whatever they want. I felt they all had a sense that they were doing their jobs ‘for the sake of animation art.'”

Many artists at the NFB, Yamamura added, spend several years making a short film, just as Yamamura did.

“It would be great for artists dedicated to animated shorts to make 10 or so good ones in their lifetime. You can’t create it if you don’t offer your life to it,” Yamamura enthused.

Yamamura had trouble finding sponsors for the project, which put the production on hold. But even so, he said, that was not a waste of time.

“If everything had gone easily and I finished my film in three years, it might have turned out different from what it is now. You can’t get to the bottom of your work if you don’t go through trial and error and have time to think,” Yamamura said.

“Thanks to advancements in personal computers and other devices, we have more convenient tools. But you have to give much thought to each frame and make it with your own hands. It takes time.” ATSUSHI  OHARA

 

 

 

 

Eadweard Muybridge Online Archive

A newish website that tags itself ‘Muybridge’s Home’ launched this month:

“We officially launched on February 14, 2011 and are in the process of processing and uploading all eleven volumes of “Animal Locomotion.” We hope to have them all up soon.”

“Welcome to the Eadweard Muybridge Online Archive. Here you will find images from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal work Animal Locomotion, photographed from the original 1887 publication with the kind support of the Boston Public Library and its extraordinary Rare Books Department. These extremely high resolution images are presented copyright free and ready for download.

Dave Gordon, Curator”
http://www.enlightenedmonkey.net
http://www.muybridge.org/

February News Roundup posted here by Stephen Herbert
http://fada.kingston.ac.uk/staff/stephen_herbert/stephen_herbert.php

Muybridge: Patents listed

I was tempted to follow the journalistic tradition and title this post ‘Patently Obvious’ but I resisted.

Now Patents aren’t everyone’s favourite reading material, but they do of course contain important information pertinent to the work of inventors, and can also lead to clues as to what they were doing with their lives at a particular time.

Following on from the possible ‘French Connection’ of my previous post, comes news of a previously undiscovered (perhaps) French patent, most likely for Muybridge’s – or rather Muygridge’s – printing invention (which I haven’t yet got to grips with). It’s listed in the Index volume of the Bulletin des Lois (Bulletin of Laws) for 1865, which apparently includes material dated up to the end of December 1863. The patent was most likely granted in 1862 – but this is not yet confirmed.

There’s also another French patent that I haven’t seen listed, 121743 of 21 December 1877; also in the Bulletin, 1879 edition. Most likely this was for his clock synchronizing system.

I’m gradually putting together this patent information on a new webpage at The Compleat Muybridge. If technical jargon is your thing, enjoy.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

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)

The exhibition Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, (which ended recently) has brought to light a major problem with our understanding of the early work. In the 1860s, Muybridge adopted the name ‘Helios’ for the publication of his photographs. Some photographs bear the name scratched into the image. It has always been assumed that this was simply a pseudonym, but photohistorian Weston Naef has claimed that Muybridge bought negatives by others, including Carleton Watkins, selling the prints under the Helios label – which was essentially a ‘studio name’ rather than a pseudonym.

Naef’s arguments include the suggestion that many of the early photographs are too accomplished to have been taken by someone who had been in the business for such a short time, and that there is no evidence that Muybridge commenced photography before his return to the USA in 1866. There is also solid evidence that some ‘Muybridge’ and ‘Helios’ photographs should be attributed to others. I shall be taking a look at those claims over the coming weeks, as time allows. In the meantime, a short story about one of my web searches…..

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.

On the back of which, is this:

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.

This possible French ‘Helios’ connection is tantalising enough, but it doesn’t stop there.

In 1859 the French photographer Camille-Leon-Louis Silvy (1834-1910) moved to England and opened what was perhaps London’s first carte-de-visite studio, at the beginning of the huge craze for cartes. The website of the National Portrait Gallery states: “In summer 1859 Silvy established his London studio in Bayswater on the north side of Hyde Park. He chose this location because he was a keen and knowledgeable horseman and wanted to make equestrian portraits.”

Silvy had taken up photography in 1857 to document his travels, his most well-known photograph was of the river Huisne in 1858, known today as “River Scene, France”. (Not for Silvy the 10,000 hours of practice that Weston Naef says is necessary to become world class.) http://blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes/2010/06/a-man-qa-weston-naef-on-eadweard-muybridge-part-two/

Karen Hellman explains,

“Because clouded skies were challenging in early photographs, Silvy used a method first invented by Hippolyte Bayard and made famous by Gustave Le Gray that is to take a separate negative of a cloudy sky and splice it with the negative of the landscape in the printing stage. In addition, Silvy has to paint in parts of the main cluster of poplar trees as well as along the horizon to blend the two negatives. Because of his success with these techniques as evident in ‘River Scene,’ Silvy is recognized as one of the great craftsmen if photographic printing.”
Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography (Routledge 2008)

River Scene. Camille Silvy, 1858. (V&A Museum)

Anyone familiar with Muybridge’s landscape and travel photography will, of course, recognize this technique as one extensively used by Muybridge a few years later – he even constructed and patented a ‘sky shade’ to make the procedure easier.

After his 1859 move to London, Silvy quickly became prominent as a fashionable society portrait photographer, at 32 Porchester Terrace, a studio he called — Helios House. Apart from the portraits, Silvy created series of studies of light and weather, street scenes, and photographic reproductions of manuscripts – and was an inventor of machines (he would eventually create a panoramic camera).

Again, anyone accustomed Muybridge’s work will immediately note the parallels in all of the above.

In addition, Silvy experimented in making print runs of photographs in ink, at about the time that Muybridge was applying for a patent – apparently, though this is a mystery in itself, which I’m investigating – for his own printing method.

(After a spell in Exeter, in 1870 Silvy moved back to France. He became a manic-depressive and, poisoned by photographic chemicals, entered an asylum in 1881 and died there in 1910.)

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….

In the meantime, with impeccable timing an exhibition, Camille Silvy – Photographer of Modern Life, opened at the National Portrait Gallery, London, on 15 July.
http://www.spoonfed.co.uk/london/event/camille-silvy-photographer-of-modern-life-1834-1910/at/national-portrait-gallery/

Posted here by Stephen Herbert