Proof Prints

  Graphic- Link for "Capturing the Moment"
Graphic- Link for "Muybridge in Motion"
Graphic- Link for "From Proof to Print"
Graphic- Link for "Sequences + Structures"
Graphic- Link for "Epilogue"
Graphic- Link for "More Information"

The Cyanotypes
Muybridge’s cyanotypes are working proofs, the contact prints he made from the more than 20,000 negatives he took at the University of Pennsylvania. Since the original negatives no longer exist, the cyanotypes provide us with the opportunity to see the pictures Muybridge really made, before he edited and cropped them for publication.

These cyanotypes, from over 800 in the National Museum of American History’s collection, are exhibited here for the first time. A Smithsonian research grant recently awarded to the curators will support further study of the cyanotypes, in the hope of better understanding Muybridge and the visual stories of locomotion he assembled. Now you, too, can make your own comparisons between Muybridge’s working cyanotype proofs and his final collotype prints.


The Process
Muybridge used up to 36 lenses with 12 to 24 cameras, placed at 30-, 60-, and 90-degree angles to his subjects. The two cameras placed at 30- and 60-degrees were able to hold up to 12 lenses each. The 90-degree angle was known as the lateral, or parallel, view, while the others Muybridge referred to as the front and rear foreshortenings. With this set-up, a successful session could result in as many as 36 negatives.

Muybridge contact-printed his negatives (A) as cyanotypes, the working proofs (B1).


A. Negatives Enlarge image
image- Negatives of cyanotypes


B1. Cyanotypes Enlarge imageimage- Cyanotypes


On cardboard mount Enlarge imageimage- Cyanotypes on cardboard



Using these cyanotypes as his guide, he enlarged each negative onto a separate piece of glass (B2) and assembled these positives into large glass plate composites (C). From these composites, the Photogravure Company, New York, produced a gelatin negative (D). The final print, called a collotype (E), was printed in ink from a plate prepared from this negative.


A. Negatives Enlarge image
image- Negatives of cyanotypes


B2. Separate glass positives Enlarge imageimage- Sepearte glass positives


C. Glass plate composite Enlarge imageimage- Glass plate composite



D. Gelatin negative Enlarge imageimage- Gelatin negatives

E. Published Collotype prints Enlarge image image- Published collotype prints


National Museum of American History