Back somersault

Eadweard James Muybridge

Collotype print by Eadweard Muybridge, 'Back somersault'. A sequence of photographs of a nude male athlete performing a backward somersault. Plate 362 from 'Animal Locomotionan Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animals Movements, 1872-1885', published in 1887.

In 1883, the University of Pennsylvania commissioned Muybridge to produce a photographic study of animal and human movement that they hoped might help to analyse diseases and malfunctions of movement. Guided by a committee of scientists, Muybridge nevertheless still approached the project as an artist. Animal Locomotion included over 19,000 photographs in a very expensive 11-volume set, aimed at connoisseurs and libraries. He focused on the narrative and aesthetic qualities of the photographic sequences. Figures were inspired by classical statuary and clearly reflect contemporary gender and social stereotypes, as shown by 'Dancing Fancy'.


Object Number:
Kingston Museum and Heritage Service

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