Central America albums online

Volcano of Agua. A view of clouds. (Boston Athenaeum)


The Boston Athenaeum has put all 202 photographs from its 2-album set of Muybridge’s views of Guatemala and Panama, online. Many of these images have never been republished in printed form, so this is a very welcome development.

Central America album. (Boston Athenaeum)

Eadweard Muybridge • Central America • 1876

Eadweard Muybridge Photograph Album of Central America, Vols. I and II
Eadweard Muybridge (Kingston, England 1830 – 1904 Kingston, England)
Central America. Illustrated by Muybridge, 1876
San Francisco, California: Eadweard Muybridge, 1876
Boston Athenæum purchase, Appleton Fund, 1878

From the website:

“In February 1875, Eadweard Muybridge boarded a Pacific Mail Steamship Company vessel in San Francisco bound for Central America, where he would photograph the localities served by the company’s freight and passenger business. It was expected that Muybridge’s photographs, when distributed and shown at international exhibitions, would encourage tourism and investment. He traveled for nine months to Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador. His final stop was Guatemala, where he spent six months documenting its principal towns and coffee plantations.

Champerico. Hauling a Launch on shore. (Boston Athenaeum)

Back in San Francisco, Muybridge enhanced the photographs, adding cloudscapes and moonlight to images already featuring towering volcanoes, tropical vegetation, Spanish-colonial architecture, and indigenous populations. Muybridge made a number of albums for presentation to the appropriate people. The Boston Athenæum’s two bound volumes contain a total of 202 photographs, some are signed Muybridge on the negative and are the most complete record of Muybridge’s Central American journey.”

The time-frozen waves in this photograph indicate that short exposures, already experimented with in 1872 or 73, were coming within Muybridge’s technical reach.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert