Muybridge’s Pacific Coast: Landscape Photographs and Cultural Topography


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History


The first comprehensive study of celebrated photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s early work, this project argues that his images helped bring this region into view. The term “Pacific Coast” comes from Muybridge’s own catalog of photographic views, where it gives coherence to the diverse body of work including pictures of isolated lighthouses and densely-built up city streets, sublime wilderness and cultivated gardens, tropical rainforests and glaciers. This range reminds us of the political, economic, and cultural interconnections between the seemingly diverse spaces of the Pacific America made possible by the developments in transportation and communication of the time. Working alongside members of the US Coast Survey, the Light-House Board, the US Army, and the crews of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, Muybridge developed a visual style that partakes of and extends the modernization of the region, giving pictorial form to both the promise and the threat of continental expansion.