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HomeContents > People > Photographers > George Bridges

Born: George Wilson Bridges 
Other: Rev. George Bridges 
Other: Reverend George Wilson Bridges 
Dates:  1788 - 1863
Active:  Palestine
The Reverend George Bridges was connected with Fox Talbot and learnt the calotype process from Nicolaas Henneman just prior to his tour of the Mediterranean and Middle East (1845-6) . He took 1,700 calotypes many of which were over-exposed or faded. A selection was published in "Palestine as it is: in a series of photographic views" (J. Hogarth, 1858) a work he dedicated to his patroness, the Countess of Ellesmere.
Some of his photographs were published by installments in:
Selections from Seventeen-Hundred Genuine Photographs: (Views-Portraits-Statuary-Antiquities). Taken around the Shores of the Mediterranean between the Years 1846–1852. With, or Without, Notes, Historical and Descriptive. By a Wayworn Wanderer.

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Approved biography for George Bridges
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Of all the alliances in the early days of photography, none would seem more improbable than that of the Rev. George Wilson Bridges and Talbot. A minister in Jamaica, Bridges watched helplessly as all four of his daughters drowned in a boating accident. Already a widower, he fled in distress from the West Indies with his only remaining son to the farthest place on earth he could find, the backwoods of Canada. After seven years of living in a quirky pentagonal log cabin crowned by an observatory, Bridges returned to England. It appears that he considered becoming the curate at Lacock and in the process came to the attention of Talbot’s formidable mother, Lady Elisabeth Feilding. Somehow they all became friends, and Nicolaas Henneman gave Bridges lessons in the calotype in preparation for his return to the life of a traveler. In 1846 Talbot’s cousin Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (“Kit”) and Calvert Richard Jones embarked on a Mediterranean voyage. Bridges met up with the party in Malta, and his nascent calotyping passion was ignited by their shared enthusiasm for the new art. From that point forward he was an adventurous and fearless photographer, making hundreds of paper negatives as he toured the Holy Land and the Mediterranean. In 1852, under the appropriate epithet of the “Wayworn Wanderer,” Bridges began to issue Selections from Seventeen-Hundred Genuine Photographs . . . Taken around the Shores of the Mediterranean between the Years 1846-52. In 1858 J. Hogarth proposed publishing his Palestine as It Is: In a Series of Photographic Views Illustrating the Bible. But none of Bridges’s publications would prove to be a commercial success. While not a scientific man, through tireless efforts Bridges mastered the calotype negative, even managing to photograph down into the fiery vent of Mount Etna between explosions. However, his printing let him down, and most of his work survives today as seriously faded salt prints. In many ways, the eccentric Bridges embodied Talbot’s dream that photography would become a useful illustrative tool in the hands of other artists; and as for so many others since, the creative act of photography helped to return a sense of meaning to Bridges’s troubled life. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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