Francis Martin DUNCAN

(Londres, 1873-1961)


Jean-Claude SEGUIN


Peter Martin Duncan (Twickenham, 20/04/1824-Hounslow, 28/05/1891)

  • épouse Jane Emily Cooke (Colchester, [1829]-1871). Descendance:
    • Emily Cecilia Duncan (1853-1940)
    • Alice Edith Duncan (1854-1946)
    • Charles Graham Duncan (1856-1921)
    • Rosabelle Mary Duncan (1857-1945)
    • Florence Amy Duncan (1859-1922)
    • Constance Duncan (1861-1947)
    • Fanny Isabel Duncan (1863-1930)
    • Samuel Vere Duncan (1864-1902)
    • Martin Gordon Duncan (1865-1933)
    • Lilla Margaret Duncan (1867-1958)
    • Cecil Cooke Duncan (1868-1948)
    • John Roderick Duncan (1870-1875)
  • épouse Mary Jane Emily Liddell Whitmarsh. Descendance:
    • Francis Martin Duncan (Londres, bapt. 26/10/1873-Surrey, 18/07/1961) épouse (Londres, 01/08/1896) Lucy Theresa Bell (1867-)


Fils d'un paléontologue et zoologiste britannique, Francis Martin Duncan -dit Martin-Duncan- est professeur de science au moment de son mariage (1896). Il va se spécialiser dans la photographie et la microphotographie scientifiques. Il publie plusieurs articles de divulgation dans The Boy's own paper et multiplie les conférences comme celle sur "The Camera and the Microscope" au Market Hall de Redhill:

Mr. Duncan then explained the special camera that was used for the purpose, and afterwards took photograph of a seed pod of a poppy, which was developed and then thrown upon the screen. Then followed number of exceedingly beautiful pictures of portions oi seaweed, botanical objects, and of insects, each demonstrating the great beauty and marvellous character of that part of God’s glorious creatures which cannot be seen the human eye.

Surrey Mirror, Friday 23 November 1900, p. 5.

Il va également publié des livres sur la question comme First Steps in Photo-Micrography: a handbook for novices (1902). C'est à partir de 1903 que Francis Martin Duncan est en contact avec Charles Urban. Les deux homme vont travailler ensemble afin de réaliser des vues cinématographiques dont l'une des premières présentations ont lieu en août 1903:

Mr. Douglas Cox will, by arrangement with Mr. Charles Urban, present at the Alhambra, next Monday evening, 17th inst., the most remarkable series of bioscope pictures ever shown to the public. The series in question consists of a number of microscopic studies of insect and animal life, photographed by Mr. F. Martin Duncan by means of tb.e micro-bioscope, and includes Busy Life in an Atom of Cheese,” "The Circulation of the Blood in the Foot of the Frog,” "The Protoplasm of the Water Weed" (showing the "blood" coursing through the veins of a tiny leaf), "The Feeding Process of Fresh Water Hydra,” "The Busy Bee" (showing various stages in the life, domestic and industrial, of the bee, honey gathering, swarming and feeding the youngin the cells). The reproduction of many of the subjects for purposes of bioscopic representation has entailed magnification varying from 8,000,000 to 36,000,000 degrees, and these wonderful results of the application of the micro-bioscope to the revelation of nature’s secrets represent but the introduction to still more amazing developments.

Sporting Times, London, saturday 15 August 1903, p. 8.

Dans un autre journal, on offre des informations complémentaires :

MICROSCOPE AND CAMERA.—Mr. F. Martin Duncan, of South Park, has been instrumental in developing the powers of the bioscope. A few ago it was thought sufficiently wonderful to show the picture of a frog jumping. At the Alhambra one can now see upon the screen the blood circulation in that name frog's foot. This sounds a trifle incredible. but it is an exact statement of the truth. The new miracle has been performed by the adaptation of the microscope to the camera which takes the bioscope films. Mr. F. Martin Duncan, who has taken the photographs, has many other miracles to show and explain to a fascinated audience. There was blood-curdling picture of cheese-mites taking their walks abroad, the tiny creatures looking on the screen as large as small crabs. The minute hydra which lives stagnant water appeared shooting out its tentacles and taking a meal. Even what was officially described as " the protoplasm of the water weed," the life-fluids coursing through the veins of a tiny piece of leaf, were clearly seen—a photograph which, by the way, involved a marvellous degree magnification. The lightning dart of a chameleon's tongue and a snake's fangs were shown in two fine pictures, and as a bonne bouche for the last all the industry and the household work of the bee were given as clearly as any procession that ever walked. Here is a good for the Redhill Literary Institution. Why not have an illustrated lecture by Mr. Duncan? It would most certainly highly popular.

Surrey Mirror, Tuesday 25 August 1903, p. 2.

Pendant quelques années, cette collaboration va être fructueuse comme l'évoque le propre Charles Urban en soulignant l'importance que revêt l'image animée dans le cadre de l'enseignement :

Photography is one of the greatest and most important factors in modern education. It is the magic carpet by means of which the teacher of geography can transport his or her students to the country forming the subject of the lesson or lecture, and show them the character of the country, its inhabitants and industries, its natural life, both animal and plant, and the habits and customs of the native races. By its aid Nature study may be carried on in the heart of the great city, and pupils learn to recognise the flowers of the field, the birds, animals, and insects that dwell in valley and woodland, and observe their habits. The most important advancement in photography as an aid to teaching is the successful application of cinematography to educational and scientific subjects Mr. Charles Urban and Mr. F. Martin-Duncan. By means of the Urban-Duncan Macro Bioscope, a wonderful series of animated pictures of microscopic forms of life has been obtained. The entire life-history of many insects, the growth of plants, the characteristic habits movements of animals, birds, fish, and reptiles have all been cinematographed, and a unique and most remarkable educational series of animated pictures produced.
The educational series of animated pictures form an absolutely ideal means of illustrating lectures or lessons on natural science, zoology, botany, entomology, anthropology, geography. Nature study, the great industries of the world, etc., etc. They were the first to apply animated photography to the recording of living microscopic organisms, and the Urban-Duncan micro-bioscope films are in demand all over the world, and in daily use in all up-to-date educational centres.
These films and slides have been specially prepared to meet the requirements of the Board of Education syllabus, educational and scientific establishments, lecturers, and teachers. They have received the highest commendation from Prof. Ray Lankester, F.R.S., director of the National History Museum; Sir H. Trueman Wood; Prof. H. E. Armstrong, Ph D., LL.D., F.R.S.; Dr. Henry Woodward, F.R.S., F.Z.S.; and many other eminent scientific and educational authorities. The Urban Company have just produced a very perfect small projection outfit, suitable for use in private schools and small lecture halls, which they offer at a very reasonable price, to meet the requirements of teachers. They are prepared to make special and advantageous terms to schools, colleges, and institutes for the illustration of series of lectures on natural science, geographical, and kindred subjects.

The Era, London, saturday 24 february 1906, p. 26.

duncan francis

F. MARTIN-DUNCAN, Fishing Sea-Lions (1906)
"The Camera as Rival to the artist: Notable pictures at the Royal Photographic Society's Exhibition at the New Gallery"
The Illustrated London News, Londres, 6 octobre 1906, p. p. 484-485.

En 1909, il est l'auteur d'un brevet sur "An Improvement in the Preparation of Plates and Films for the Production of Coloured Pictures by Means of Photography". (GB190900050A du 1er janvier 1909). Il poursuit ses activités de conférencierà la Royal Photographic Society, {tip "Otster's Life Struggle" (Nottingham Evening Post, Nottingham, 2 octobre 1912, p. 5) au.London Salon of Photography{/tip}...

Pendant de nombreuses années, il va continuer à s'intéresser au cinéma scientifique et collabore, en particulier, avec la Zoological Society:

Thanks to the generosity and enterprise of Mr. F. Martin Duncan, F.R.P.S., the Zoological Society now possesses the nucleus of a national collection of natural history films. He has, I learn, presented a copy of several films taken by him at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Plymouth to the Society for this purpose. At a meeting of the Society last week these pictures were shown, and created considerable discussion. They included the circulation of the blood near a fish's tail, star fishes crawling on the sands, a spider crab performing its toilet in the water, and the fiddler crab enacting its curious movements suggestive of a jazz dance.

The Bioscope, London, Thursday 27 Octobre 1921, p. 11.

Il met en outre au point des techniques de tournage, comme celle qu'il décrit, en 1922, pour les prises de vues sous-marines:

duncan francis 01

"Under-Water Cinematography: Filming Fish and Crustaceans
Drawn by W. B. Robinson from material supplied by F. Martin Duncan, F.R.M.S., F.Z.S, F.R.P.S.
The Illustrated London News, London, August 12, 1922, p. 242.

Mr. F. Martin Duncan's remarkable underwater moving photographs of marine creatures, a number of which appear on the succeeding pages, were shown to the Zoological Society, and form the beginning of a national collection of natural history films. They illustrate the movements and habits of different kinds of fish and crustaceans, as well as marine flora. "Various devices," says Mr. Duncan, " had to be used, including a modification of the water-telescope, for work among the rock pools. The fish were photographed in specially designed tanks, with optically worked glass fronts, so that there should be no distortion of the image, and a special photo-micrographic outfit was used for the microscopic forms of life." Fig. I, above, shows the apparatus for filming moving objects in pools, and Fig. 2, that for moving objects of medium size placed in a tank, measuring about. 3 ft. 8 in. long by 2ft. wide by 2 ft. 6 in. deep Only the front and sides were of glass, the back being of metal of varying colours to contrast with the objects. The floor was usually covered with shingle, and sometimes the back was built up like rocks, to resemble natural surroundings. Fig. 3 shows the camera used for taking small objects in a shallow aquarium.

The Illustrated London News, London, August 12, 1922, p. 242.

Il poursuit ses activités au cours des années 30.