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Ascending and Descending Stairs
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Id Number: PG.003856.0387, Accession number: 98473, Catalog number: 3856.0387, Maker number: 1419
Curatorial description (Accessed: 7 July 2020)
Eadweard Muybridge's cyanotypes are working proofs (contact prints) made from the more than 20,000 negatives he took at the University of Pennsylvania from 1884 to 1886. There Muybridge photographed human and animal subjects in motion from lateral (parallel), front and rear positions. For the lateral views he used up to 36 lenses in 12 to 24 cameras placed at 90-degree angles to his subjects. Muybridge added two more cameras, each holding up to 12 lenses and placed at 60-degree angles, for the front and rear "foreshortening" views.
Since the original negatives no longer exist, the cyanotypes record complete images before Muybridge edited and cropped them for publication. The mounted cyanotypes for plate 55 represent one of over 750 sets of proofs in this unique collection of early photography of motion at the Smithsonian. Comparisons between Muybridge's working cyanotype proofs and his final collotype prints prove that he freely reprinted, cropped, deleted or substituted negatives to make the assemblage of 781 collotype in the portfolio "Animal Locomotion."