Eadweard Muybridge - Leland Stanford’s Residence

Photograph Album : ca. 1878

Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) was an English photographer known principally for his pioneering studies of motion done for Leland Stanford. Muybridge was also an innovative and successful landscape and survey photographer, documentary artist, inventor, and war correspondent. Leland Stanford (1824-1893) was one of the four railroad magnates who built the Central Pacific Railroad, later serving as California Governor and a United State senator.

When Leland Stanford moved from Sacramento to San Francisco in 1874, he began to construct a palatial new home on what is now called Nob Hill, a neighborhood that was becoming the most prestigious address for the city’s wealthy families. Muybridge’s photographs - probably shot in 1877 and bound into several albums for the Stanfords the following year – depict the interior of what was then considered the largest private residence in the state. The narrative, picture-story quality of the album, especially the panoramic views from Stanford’s windows, reveals Muybridge’s intention to document the dwelling from the point of view of its master. The California Street home was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

The album contains 62 albumen prints of the interior rooms, 2 exterior views, and 5 views of San Francisco taken from the house. Jane Stanford, Leland Stanford’s wife, gave the album as a gift to her brother-in-law Josiah Stanford. The album includes descriptive captions in Jane Stanford’s hand of room styles and colors.

See also related exhibit at SFMOMA: Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change.

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