Plate 461—Opening a parasol, and turning around, 1887
Image: 7½ × 15¾ in.
Sheet: 14 × 20 in.
October 16, 2023
Eadweard Muybridge was at his most playful when his subjects were accessorized with items like a cane to twirl, or a hat to doff, and this woman's graceful display of her parasol is one of the most dazzling and theatrical of those sequences.
His motion studies of men and women performing routine tasks, taken between 1872 and 1885, often preserve a window into late 19th century fashion. Parasols were considered an essential part of upscale women’s fashion at the time, particularly because pale skin was regarded as an indication of beauty and status. Parasols saw a decline in the 20th century, due to the popularization of waterproof umbrellas and tanned appearances, but they have experienced a resurgence in recent years, as they've been embraced as a stylish way to offer protection from the sun.