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Jewels of the Archive

13th June - 3rd September 2014

Following on from last year's Best of Archive, Getty Images Gallery has once again mined the exceptional Getty Images Hulton Archive to bring you a selection of treasured images, each telling its own story and forming a wider narrative on the history of photography. With access to arguably the most comprehensive photojournalism archive in the world, the gallery opens the door onto this ultimate Aladdin's Cave, with prints produced by one of the country's finest darkrooms. The Hulton Archive encompasses a huge variety of collections; seminal agencies that shaped the landscape of press photography in the twentieth century, and smaller, but equally as precious, archives by pioneering photographers such as AH Robinson and William England. With this in mind, Jewels of the Archive focuses on the collections which have given us some of the greatest images across the gallery's seventeen year history, such as the Topical Press Agency, Picture Post and Daily Express archives. With many of these images originally seen on the printed page, the gallery walls bring a new context to this varied assortment of news, sport and entertainment photography.

Our aim here in the gallery is to make this incomparable collection accessible to all, and that consideration remains at the core of each exhibition we produce – almost every image here is available for you to buy and display in your own home. With this in mind, we have included the images that have that quality of captivation that keeps them in print year after year, alongside lesser seen works that have their own story to tell. In selecting these 'jewels', the criteria would often shift; what it is that makes one image a jewel over another? Sometimes nostalgia, other times documentary power, or that unknowable pleasure we get from seeing the play of light and shadow captured in the frame. The very nature of such a vast archive has produced a necessarily diverse exhibition, with celebrity portraiture alongside fashion shoots, and unique curiosities bookending historical events. Jewels of the Archive also features work from masters such as Bill Brandt, Bert Hardy and Terry Fincher, amongst ephemera from the Hulton's prized vintage room, including items from the earliest photographic practices. From Stereoscopic wonders that afforded the Victorians a three-dimensional glimpse of a less-explored world, to the timeless expressions of unnamed participants, simply caught at the perfect moment. With some of our most celebrated images on display, we hope you also enjoy the upturned stones amongst the jewels.

At the turn of the 21st Century Getty Images merged London based Hulton Picture Collection with Archive Film and Photos, New York creating Hulton Archive, an awesome visual resource of over 60 million images contained within 1500 individual collections. Complimented by over 30,000 hours of archival footage and up-to-the-minute coverage from our News, Sport and Footage divisions Getty Images now offers unprecedented access to the finest collections of editorial image content in the world.