Sean's Pics

From fantastical posters and assemblages to boxing cats, discover our Head of IT's favourites from the archive 

1.  What is your role at Bridgeman?

I am the Head of IT at Bridgeman Images. I manage a small team of developers and support staff that work hard to keep the Bridgeman servers and websites running smoothly and efficiently.
All of our development is done in-house and we are constantly working on improvements to the site. Most recently, we rolled out an upgrade to our search engine to improve the overall speed and responsiveness of the website. 


2.  What do you love most about the job?

I did a Masters in art history so have always tried to work in an industry that combined my professional skills in IT with the art world. Bridgeman is the perfect combination for that and always challenges me in unique ways on how technology can improve the arts – from cataloguing to archiving to the more commercial sides of the business.


3. What misconceptions do clients most commonly have about the archive?

While I am not generally in a client-facing role, one thing I found rather fascinating about the archive is the amount of design contained within. I have always been interested in furniture design and when I first started working at Bridgeman I would often do test searches for Italian designers whose work I admired. So if you are ever looking for examples for Ettore Sottsass or Joe Colombo have a look!

Sean Chambers, Head of IT


A 'Carlton' room divider, 1981 (various coloured plastic laminates), Ettore Sottsass II / Private Collection / Photo © Christie's Images / Bridgeman Images





The Carlton
I fell in love with Memphis Design as a kid after seeing Bette Midler’s upscale house in the movie Ruthless People from the 1980s. So much so that I made my dad take me to a number of contemporary furniture shops looking for examples (\ was a saint; I was a weird kid).
The Carlton is the perfect icon of this era of design – bright, garish colours with an almost impenetrable marriage of form and function. Is it a sculpture? Is it furniture? No idea.




Caravaggio was the original Enfant Terrible of the art world. I have read almost every biography of him that has been published and I am still fascinated by his life and work.
He was pretty much at his end when he painted David with the Head of Goliath. Wanted in Rome after a somewhat murky killing over a tennis match, Caravaggio painted some of his darkest works during this period. The severed head is his portrait.
David with the Head of Goliath, 1606 (for detail see 100350), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio / Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy / Bridgeman Images


Soapbubble Variant, c.1956 (mixed media), Joseph Cornell / Private Collection / James Goodman Gallery, New York, USA / Bridgeman Images


Joseph Cornell
Using discarded bits of junk and purchases from thrift stores, Joseph Cornell made fantastical assemblages that almost seem like a window into another world. 
His work always reminds me of those twins that came up with their own language that no one else could decode. Cornell’s work exists in a similar space –equally undecipherable yet undeniably beautiful. 



Edison Films

It’s good to know that our collective cultural fascination with dressing up cats in silly outfits and filming it for our amusement spans back more than 100 years.

Thomas Edison can add another tick to his long list of inventions: cat meme videos.

Boxing cats - early Edison film, 1894 / Bridgeman Footage


Silver Lie (colour litho), Gino D'Achille (20th century) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images




Gino D'achille

When we were working on our search engine, I found that I was executing a lot of repetitive searches to test timings and results quality. For some reason I started using ‘cowboy’ as one of my tests and came across Gino D’Achille. I had never heard of him before but now think I am a fan for life. His work runs the gamut from trashy fantasy novel covers to pulpy Americana and I love it all.

This image is particularly amazing – such an obvious homage to Clint Eastwood and the spaghetti westerns, but with a great pop sensibility. Some day I am determined to own an original Gino D’Achille.


Magic Posters
I love Victorian-era magic posters – they are so full of rich colours and wonderful typography.
This particular poster features Chung Ling Soo, an American magician who adopted Chinese persona in order to cash in on the fascination with Eastern mysticism. Sadly, he proved to be all too mortal in the end, perishing at the Wood Green Theatre in North London when his famous ‘bullet-catching’ trick went wrong and was struck down by a fragment of metal from one of the stage guns. 
Poster for conjuror Chung Ling Soo (Ellsworth Robinson) c. 1912 / Photo © PVDE / Bridgeman Images



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