Florence Nightingale 1820 - 1910

Past display archive
17 May - 12 December 2010

Room 23

Free



Florence Nightingale, by Jerry Barrett, 1856 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Florence Nightingale
by Jerry Barrett
1856
NPG 2939

Florence Nightingale is one of the most celebrated figures of the Victorian era. Her pioneering treatment of sick and wounded soldiers during the Crimean War made her a national hero and a modern exemplar of female virtue. Newspaper reports and poems transformed the nurse into a cultural icon as the ‘Lady with the Lamp'. Despite the demand for her image, she had a moral objection to celebrity and sat for her portrait rarely and with the greatest reluctance.

Her discomfort with the near mythical status of her Crimean experience has subsequently been justified by the fact that much of her significant post-war career has been overlooked. Performed away from the public eye and largely from her sickbed, she campaigned for public health care reform, supervised the modernisation of nursing, and advised governments on army health provision, sanitation improvements and hospital design.

Marking the centenary of her death, this display includes three of the handful of photographs that she agreed to sit for and studies for Jerry Barrett's modern history painting The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale Receiving the Wounded at Scutari, also on display in Room 23.