PANORAMA OF SAN FRANCISCO, FROM CALIFORNIA ST. HILL
by Muybridge, Eadweard
[San Francisco]: Morse's Gallery, 1877. Albumen photographic panorama mounted on eleven panels, the entire panorama measuring a total of 7 1/2 x 87 1/4 inches. Caption title, photographic credit, and publisher's imprint printed on center panel. Backed by cloth and folding into original gilt cloth binding. Cloth boards with some old dampstaining on lower edge. Old staining on panels below photographic prints. The images themselves are quite clean and sharp. Very good condition. In a cloth chemise and half morocco and cloth slipcase, spine gilt. One of the landmarks of 19th-century American photography, and an iconic image of San Francisco. This remarkable panorama dramatically shows the growth of San Francisco nearly thirty years after the onset of the Gold Rush. In the 1870s, San Francisco audiences were hungry for panoramic displays, and the rest of the country was intrigued by San Francisco, the largest city in the West. Muybridge satisfied all appetites by providing a 360° view of the city, creating what Rebecca Solnit calls "an impossible sight, a vision of the city in all directions, a transformation of a circular space into a linear photograph." David Harris calls Muybridge's San Francisco panorama "one of the supreme conceptual and technical achievements in the history of architectural photography." Eadweard Muybridge took the photographs that make up this panorama from a vantage point on the central tower of the unfinished Nob Hill residence of railroad baron Mark Hopkins, then the highest point in the developed portion of the city. The work was done in June or July, 1877 and took some five hours to complete, based on the shifting shadows seen in the image. Muybridge began in the late morning with a view toward the southwest (the tenth plate in the panorama) and proceeded in a clockwise direction, moving his camera away from the sun from one image to the next. Muybridge's view is from some 380 feet above sea level, and the view reaches some fifty miles into the distance and encompasses a width of fifteen miles. Despite the great scope of the work, precise details of the city are visible throughout, and one can clearly see hanging laundry, ships in the harbor, shop signs, and a clock on a tower in the fifth panel reading quarter to two (other copies of the panorama show the clock reading nearly five-thirty). San Francisco spreads throughout the panorama, and the dynamism of the city is clearly evident, as many unfinished buildings and roads under construction are also seen. Muybridge's panorama was advertised as being for sale in July 1877, offered for eight dollars rolled or ten dollars accordion- folded and bound, as in the present copy. Buyers could purchase the panorama directly from Muybridge, or through Morse's Gallery. Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) was one of the great photographic innovators of the 19th century. Born in England, he came to San Francisco in 1855 and built his reputation on photographs of San Francisco, Yosemite, and other western locales. The year after he produced his San Francisco panorama, Muybridge, at the behest of another railroad magnate, Leland Stanford, produced a sequence of photographs of a galloping horse that proved that all four of the animals hooves were off the ground at the same time. Muybridge's work in sequential photography, in which he photographed animals and humans in motion, laid the groundwork for motion pictures. A remarkable view of San Francisco, and a high point in the photographic representation of the West. David Harris, EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE AND THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PANORAMA OF SAN FRANCISCO, 1850-1880, catalogue item 31; pp.37-53. Rebecca Solnit, RIVER OF SHADOWS: EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE AND THE TECHNOLOGICAL WILD WEST. Paul A. Falconer, "Muybridge's Window to the Past: A Wet- Plate View of San Francisco" in CALIFORNIA HISTORY (Summer 1978), pp.130-57. HOWES M926.
(Inventory #: WRCAM43656)
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