Albert Londe

French medical researcher, chronophotographer

In 1878 a laboratory for medical photography had been set up at La Saltpêtrière hospital in Paris. To pursue his medical studies, in 1882 Londe constructed a camera fitted with nine lenses arranged in a circle. A series of electro-magnets energised in sequence by a metronome device released nine shutters in quick succession, taking nine pictures on a glass plate. He used the camera to study the movements of patients during epileptic fits. Londe's improved camera of 1891 used twelve lenses (in three rows of four) and was used for medical studies of muscle movement in subjects performing a variety of actions as diverse as those of a tightrope walker and a blacksmith. The sequence of twelve pictures could be made in anything from 1/10th of a second to several seconds. The lay-out of Londe's laboratory at La Saltpêtrière was in many ways similar to Marey's Station Physiologique, and was similarly subsidised by the Parisian authorities. Although the apparatus was used primarily for medical research, Londe noted that it was portable, and he used it for other subjects - horses and other animals, and waves, for example. General Sobert developed, in conjunction with Londe, a chronophotographic device to help in the study of ballistics. Londe's pictures were used as illustrations in several books, notably by Paul Richer, widely read by the medical and artistic fraternity.

Brian Coe