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Peter Rennie, Picture Researcher

Peter Rennie, Picture Researcher
Peter Rennie, Picture Researcher

 

 

What's your role at Bridgeman Images?

It's my job to try to find the best available images or footage for a client's project. This could be a bestseller or something more obscure. Often this means sourcing an image from one of our many content partners around the globe. The research department also deals with questions about missing or disputed information.

What do you love most about your job? 

The best bit is when there is some sleuthing to be done. A client might want information on a tiny fragment of a picture of unknown origin. It's up to us to hunt it down. We do this either technologically, by historical inference, or through connoisseurship based on stylistic cues.

What misconceptions do people most commonly have about the archive?

We would love more people to known about the free research service we offer to interested clients. We search our own archive or consult our content partners, either to track down specific images or to curate selections of relevant material on any theme. We're happy to do this with no obligation.

 

Peter's top picks from our archive

Joan of Arc

The historic Jeanne didn't manage to beg armour off the king until she was 17. Here the artist wants to make her look even younger. On her knees in devotion, she looks like she's playing dress-up in adult clothes. The real subject though is the armour with the light glinting off steel. Millais pulls the classic painters' move of selecting props that let him flex his skills.

Joan of Arc, 1865 (oil on canvas) John Everett Millais (1829-96) / French national heroine and a Catholic Saint; The Maid of Orleans  © Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London / Bridgeman Images
Joan of Arc, 1865 (oil on canvas) John Everett Millais (1829-96) / French national heroine and a Catholic Saint; The Maid of Orleans  © Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London / Bridgeman Images
 

 

The Monitor and Merrimac

This is the American Civil War is in its high steampunk phase, with two ironclad ships firing on each other. It's the first encounter of its kind and a bit of a sci-fi moment. The CSS Virginia and USS Monitor show which way technology is evolving, and the old sailing ship in the background suddenly appears obsolete. 

It wasn't obvious how best to use these new weapons or to defend against them. This cast an uncertainty over naval tactics for a few decades. Eventually Dreadnoughts, U-boats and other terrors would emerge from these earlier transitional fossils.

The Monitor and Merrimac, 9th March 1862, pub.1886 (colour litho) after Julian Oliver Davidson (1853-94) © The Stapleton Collection / Bridgeman Images
The Monitor and Merrimac, 9th March 1862, pub.1886 (colour litho) after Julian Oliver Davidson (1853-94) © The Stapleton Collection / Bridgeman Images 

 

Dog

John Gay's photos from the English Heritage collection are some of the best in the archive. There are many spectacular architectural shots, idyllic landscapes, industrial scenes and stylish mid-century air and rail travellers. There are even some animals, like this springer Spaniel.

photo of A springer spaniel peering out from a small circular hole cut into the wooden plank door of a barn or similar agricultural outbuilding in Cornwall.
Dog, 1950-58 (b/w photo) John Gay, (1909-99) © Historic England / Bridgeman Images

 

Creators and Critics

This is a good one for anyone who's taken a creative risk and had to deal with disparaging put-downs. Perhaps even from their inner critic? The representation is not exactly subtle and veers into self-pity, but the theme never goes out of date. 

In moments of doubt, one's critics can seem to grow in stature. This image is a good reminder that really they are just diabolical, squalid, flapping bat-things. And not to be trusted.

Creators and Critics, 1985-86 (woodcut) Harry Sternberg, (1904-2001) © San Diego Museum of Art / Museum purchase / Bridgeman Images
Creators and Critics, 1985-86 (woodcut) Harry Sternberg, (1904-2001) © San Diego Museum of Art / Museum purchase / Bridgeman Images

 

Saturn V rocket

The Saturn V moon rocket, the best sculpture in the history of art. 

First test flight of a giant Saturn V rocket for the Apollo 4 mission at the Kennedy Space Center. Nov. 8, 1967 Everett Collection / Bridgeman Images
First test flight of a giant Saturn V rocket for the Apollo 4 mission at the Kennedy Space Center. Nov. 8, 1967 Everett Collection / Bridgeman Images 

 

Find out more

Need help with a project? Contact our team of in-house experts to source the cultural and historical footage and stills that you need. Our archive is growing all the time so there's always something new to discover. We also offer research and retouching services.

 

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