Victoria Harriet Lucy Bridgeman, Viscountess Bridgeman CBE FRSA (born 1942), née Turton, is the founder of the Bridgeman Art Library, which encompasses the world's largest collection of fine art images.
Early life and education
Born to Ralph Meredyth Turton and Mary Blanche Chetwynd-Stapylton in County Durham, England, she is one of four daughters. Throughout her early youth, she was educated at home by a governess, under the Parents' National Educational Union System. She then attended St Mary's School in Wantage, Berkshire, and Trinity College, Dublin, graduating with a Master of Arts degree.
After graduating in 1964, she worked as an editorial trainee with The Lady magazine. Continuing with her passion for writing, in 1965, she was appointed Executive Editor for a weekly monograph called The Masters Following this, she conceived, edited and produced another weekly magazine, Discovering Antiques, for which she formed her own production company, Harriet Bridgeman Ltd. Works such as The Encyclopaedia of Victoriana and The British Eccentric are some of the many books written, edited, and co-authored by her.
During her time as an editor and author, Bridgeman discovered the need for easier access to illustrations of works of art. There was no central and convenient way to obtain colour transparencies or black-and-white prints other than by going from museum to museum. The concept of the Bridgeman Art Library emerged in 1972 and developed to allow users to access thousands of images at the same time providing extra income for the museums, collections, artists and institutions which it represents. The library now has offices in Germany, France, England, and the United States and Lady Bridgeman continues to travel internationally in order to support the development of collections and the access to arts generally.
The Library has been funded by the European Union for three major research projects involving new technology, including the MILE Project (Metadata Image Library Exploitation) and Project SILVER (Semantic Interactive Learning Visualisation Environment Research). MILE aims to promote European cultural heritage and make digital art more accessible by improving metadata, while the SILVER project researches the visualisation of knowledge within e-learning environments with a view to developing highly innovative software along with content-based prototypes for educational use.
In addition to running the Library, Bridgeman was a founder member of BAPLA British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies and has chaired their executive committee with special responsibility for copyright. She compiled their first publication on the standardisation of terms in use in the picture industry. She also represents The Artists' Collecting Society CIC on the British Copyright Council (BCC), is a Trustee of the British Sporting Art Trust and the Imperial College Healthcare Charity, and is a member of the Intellectual Property Advisory Committee (IPAC).
In 1997, Bridgeman was awarded the European Women of Achievement Award in the Arts. The award was given in recognition of the Bridgeman Art Library’s promotion of European culture and the European scope of its clients, collections and research. In 2005, she was voted the International Business Woman of the Year by the judges of the International Business Awards. In 2006, she founded a Community Interest Company, the Artists' Collecting Society to collect Artists’ Resale Right (Droit de Suite) on behalf of UK-based artists which includes, amongst its many members, Frank Auerbach and Howard Hodgkin, and the estates of Lucian Freud and Barbara Hepworth.
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