Ed's Pics and Clips

Bridgeman's Global Head of Content Strategy and Partnerships talks about some of his favorite images in the archive. 

What is your role at Bridgeman?

I am Bridgeman's Global Head of Content Strategy and Partnerships. I work closely with our 2500 Content Partners from around the world. We are an image archive, so the heart of the organization is the content we hold and our Content Partners who provide it. I work closely with them all to ensure that we fulfill their expectations on the benefits of joining Bridgeman Images - from revenue generation to global exposure to allowing them to simplify their internal workflows, we work with everyone for varying reasons. The other critical part of my role is to set our strategy each year for the new content my team will be working to bring in and the new partners we are hoping to represent. This is based on a series of criteria but we factor in market trends that the sales teams are experiencing, what the general image themes are projected to be, and a lot of internal analysis of what is being searched on our website and content gaps we may identify. Having been at the company for many years now in different countries and in both sales and content capacities, I am fortunate to be able to look at our content strategy from multiple territorial and industry perspectives. I started in our London office and in 2000 relocated to our New York office where I am currently based.

 

Edward Whitley, Bridgeman's President for North and South America.
Edward Whitley, Bridgeman's President for North and South America.

 

What do you love most about the job?

The 3 Cs - the content partners, the clients, the content.

Our industry is a wonderful community of creatives - both on the content partner side and the client licensing side - and I have so enjoyed getting to know both communities as well as I have over the years. After a brief conversation with a wonderful magazine publisher many moons ago on the subject of sport, the next day I found myself court side at Madison Square Garden watching the Knicks beat the Pacers in the playoffs! I've watched a client perform in a Shakespeare play, been piped on to the Forbes yacht and (occasionally!) mingled with clients and content partners alike into the small hours at our infamous New York garden parties – it's simply a great community.


We work closely with our content partners and I am very fortunate that my role allows me unique access behind the scenes at museums, archives and artists' studios, getting to glimpse art and artifacts in the vaults that are often not accessible to the general public. A lot of us at Bridgeman have art history degrees, so being immersed in the breadth and depth of the Bridgeman content is always a thrill.  

What misconceptions do clients most commonly have about the archive?

The most common misconception has always been that we only specialize in the famous masterpieces, while in fact we also have the most incredible treasure trove of art from private collections all over the world which have never been made available for licensing before.

Clients are, likewise, often unaware how rich our photographic collection has become. Since we bought the 125 year old Giraudon archive about 15 years ago, we became a resource as much about photography, architecture and civilization as one of art; but perceptions are definitely changing which is hugely encouraging.
 
My personal misconception is often forgetting the size of an original artwork. It's always such a surprise when seeing the original in the flesh, whether it's either the size of a postage stamp or 30ft tall. If I don't step back from time to time, everything is assumed to be 8"x10" at 300dpi!


 
Ed’s favourite images in the archive are:

1. Dancing with Matisse

 

Left: The Dance I (La Danse I), 1932, by Henri Matisse ; Right: Henri Matisse (1869-1954) Drawing with a Bamboo Stick, 1931, American Photographer / The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Left: The Dance I (La Danse I), 1932, by Henri Matisse ; Right: Henri Matisse (1869-1954) Drawing with a Bamboo Stick, 1931, American Photographer / The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

 

It's so hard to come up with a Top 5 list from our 4 million stunning images, but my favorite works are as much about the stories behind them. So my first choice is Matisse's mural ‘The Dance’, which he created for the interior of the Barnes Foundation.

Ten years ago Bridgeman was in discussions with the Foundation to represent their collection. At that time it was still housed in Dr. Barnes' house and was only open a few days a week and to a limited audience. I was fortunate to be invited when it was closed to the public - myself and the head of merchandising walked and talked amongst the artwork at our leisure. When one is knee-deep in contracts, tax documents or trying to understand the latest health laws, reminiscing about ‘The Dance’ helps enormously!

 

 

Northern Europe, from an Atlas of the World in 33 maps, Venice, 1st September 1553 (ink on vellum), Battista Agnese (1514-64) / Museo Correr, Venice, Italy
Northern Europe, from an Atlas of the World in 33 maps, Venice, 1st September 1553 (ink on vellum), Battista Agnese (1514-64) / Museo Correr, Venice, Italy

 

 

 

2. Medieval Maps

I love medieval and Renaissance maps: their inventiveness and creativity is something to behold. If GPS devices had the same artistic license, what fun my children would have during our 5 hour car journeys, warding off the meanest, baddest beasts approaching 50 yards on our right.

 

 

3. Stanley Spencer at Sandham Memorial Chapel

Bridgeman is very fortunate to have been chosen to represent the Estate of Stanley Spencer. My parents live in the next door village to the Sandham Memorial Chapel. The symmetrical brick façade of the chapel gives no clue to the sheer brilliance that lies within. On the facing wall is the Resurrection of the Soldiers which depicts the fallen soldiers climbing out of their graves bearing white crosses and reuniting and embracing their fellow fallen comrades.

The entire cycle of paintings in the chapel demonstrates some of the best British art of the twentieth century and on the 100th anniversary of the First World War, chapels like Sandham Memorial will become more poignant than ever.

 

The Resurrection of the Soldiers (detail), 1923-27 (wall painting), Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) / Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, Hampshire, UK
The Resurrection of the Soldiers (detail), 1923-27 (wall painting), Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) / Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere, Hampshire, UK

 

 

The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 (oil and tempera on canvas), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) / National Gallery, London, UK
The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 (oil and tempera on canvas), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) / National Gallery, London, UK

 

 

4. The Supper at Emmaus

From his scandalous life to mysterious death, the world of Caravaggio has always captivated me. This particular painting is one of my favourites. The intensity of the disciples’ reactions and emotions are so vividly displayed in the foreshortened arms of one and bent arms of the other. The drama is further heightened by the bowl of fruit now teetering on the edge of the table. 

 

The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 (detail), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) / National Gallery, London, UK
The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 (detail), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) / National Gallery, London, UK

 

 

The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 (detail), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) / National Gallery, London, UK
The Supper at Emmaus, 1601 (detail), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) / National Gallery, London, UK

 

 

5. Of Bulls and Bears

The New York Historical Society was the first US collection that I worked with when I moved to the US in early-2000. I remember seeing posters of this painting many years prior without appreciating where the original was located, and I think it’s such a significant part of Bridgeman’s role to connect the collection with the client. This is a great depiction of the stock market struggles of the later part of 19th century America, but could just as easily refer to the start of the 21st.

 

The Bulls and Bears in the Market, 1879 (oil on canvas), William Holbrook Beard (1823-1900) / © Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA /
The Bulls and Bears in the Market, 1879 (oil on canvas), William Holbrook Beard (1823-1900) / © Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA /

 

 

The Question / Halas & Batchelor
The Question / Halas & Batchelor

 

 

6. Clip: The Question

We represent an amazing animation archive from Halas and Batchelor. Started in the late 1930s, H&B are credited with creating the first ever British animated feature and this piece is one of my favourites. It follows a man who discovers a question mark and tries to work out what it means, resulting in an excellent satirical look at the meaning of life.


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