Before Eadweard J. Muybridge completed his breakthrough work in film, for which he earned a Google doodle Monday, the photographer killed a man. History may have been very different if Eadweard J. Muybridge had gone to jail.
Photographer Eadweard J. Muybridge is renowned for his frame-by-frame snapshots of a galloping horse, celebrated on Monday with a special Google doodle in his honor. The famous reel, taken in the late 1870s, proved that at the height of a horse’s gallop, all four of its legs are in the air. But Muybridge had an entirely different reputation in 1874 – that of a cold-blooded killer.
Muybridge married the 21-year-old Flora Stone in 1872. They had a baby boy, Floredo Helios Muybridge, two years later. But Muybridge thought Floredo might not have been his son. He discovered a series of letters between his wife and drama critic Major Harry Larkyns, according to Stanford Magazine. She even sent a picture of Floredo to Larkyns with the caption “Little Harry.”
Muybridge decided to take matters into his own hands. He shot Larkyns through the heart. When Muybridge was put on trial in 1875, he pleaded insanity, but then changed his defense to “justifiable homicide,” or killing without bad intent.