Aimé-Nicolas Morot (1850-1913), provoked a lot of discussion at the Salon in 1886 with his painting of a cavalry charge, because it changed how people thought about galloping horses.
According to a contemporary observer, "The old-fashioned rendering of this movement, which always depicted steeds with all their four legs fully extended, was, for the first time in an important picture, absolutely swept away and superseded. In it the horses are shown in almost every possible phase of the gallop, and some of the positions came rather as a shock."
Even before Eadweard Muybridge developed his methods for photographing animals in motion, Morot was beginning to suspect that the traditional "hobby horse" pose didn't really happen at any phase of real galloping action. The problem is that the unaided human eye can't with any certainty isolate individual poses from such rapid action.
|Aimé-Nicolas Morot (1850-1913)|
But Morot was determined. Day after day he would bring his sketchbook to the cavalry training ground at the Champ de Mars, "and there, with a special instrument of his own construction, spend many hours closely studying the movements and action of the horses as they dashed by. The instrument referred to was simply a small wooden box with a quickly closing shutter which he could release at will, through which he would closely follow the motion of a galloping squadron and then, suddenly letting go of the shutter, endeavour to retain and reconstruct the image last impressed upon his vision."
You can do the same thing even without this device by watching an action closely and snapping your eyes shut. With practice and training, your short term memory can seize on these brief afterimages to reconstruct extreme fast action.
Quote from "An Art Student's Reminiscences of Paris in the Eighties" by Shirley Fox (Thanks, Matthew Innis)
Wikipedia on Aimé-Nicolas Morot
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