It is the 143rd anniversary of the day on which eccentric English photographer Eadweard Muybridge shot Abe Edgington, the first of six cabinet cards depicting the movement of a horse that became known as The Horse in Motion series.

Leland Stanford, the former Governor of California who founded Stanford University during his time serving as a Senator in the upper house of the United States Congress, commissioned Muybridge to undertake scientific studies of the gaits of horses while they were trotting and galloping.

Muybridge, who was born Edward Muggeridge but changed both his first name and surname to Anglo-Saxon equivalents, was a controversial character. In 1874, Muybridge shot and killed his wife’s lover, but a jury of his peers acquitted him on the grounds of justifiable homicide. Four years later, Muybridge photographed Abe Edgington trotting at Palo Alto and produced a sequential series of 12 automatic electro-photographs that captured his movement.

The Horse in Motion series became the first example of chronophotography, an early method to photographically record the passing of time, mainly used to document the different phases of locomotion for study. It formed an important step in the development of motion pictures.

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