The Bet That Gave Us One of the Most Famous Photos Of All Time

By Google Arts & Culture

Discover the unusual origin story behind Eadweard Muybridge's photography

Portrait of Muybridge (c. 1899) by Eadweard MuybridgeKingston Museum

Eadweard Muybridge (1830 - 1904) is well-known for his photographic studies of motion.

Running (Galloping) (negative 1878–1879; print 1881) by Eadweard J. MuybridgeThe J. Paul Getty Museum

But would you believe that this iconic photograph all originated in a bet?

In 1872, railroad magnate Leland Stanford bet a friend that all of a horse's hooves leave the ground when it's running, and hired Muybridge to prove it. Muybridge set up 24 cameras that were set-off by the horse's movement over a series of trip wires.

And who won the bet?

Stanford of course! Here you can see that the horse's feet leave the ground simultaneously, all thanks to Muybridge's skillful photography!

Plate Number 733. Elephant walking (1887) by Eadweard MuybridgeNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

See more of Muybridge's motion studies here.

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