The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari

The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari, by Jerry Barrett, 1857 - NPG 6202 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

  • Larger Image
  • Image zoom
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari

by Jerry Barrett
oil on canvas, 1857
57 7/8 in. x 85 7/8 in. (1470 mm x 2182 mm) overall
Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, 1993
Primary Collection
NPG 6202

On display in Room 23 at the National Portrait Gallery

Artistback to top

  • Jerry Barrett (1824-1906), Painter. Artist associated with 9 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.

Sittersback to top

This portraitback to top

Florence Nightingale, clearly highlighted in the centre of the group, is shown receiving casualties in the courtyard of the Barrack Hospital at Scutari, a suburb of Constantinople. Through the gateway can be seen more sick and wounded climbing up from a makeshift landing-stage on the Bosphorus and, in the distance, the gardens of the Seraglio and the Mosque of S. Sophia. Immediately to her left stand Selina and Charles Bracebridge, old friends who assisted her in her first nine months at Scutari and, next to them, Lord William Paulet, commander of British forces in the Bosphorus. Paulet's successor, General (later Sir Henry) Storks stands in the doorway on the extreme left of the painting alongside Dr. (later Sir William) Linton, one of the medical officers at the hospital. In front of them, holding a sunshade, is Alexis Soyer, former chef at the Reform Club who revolutionised dietary regimes at the Barrack Hospital. The stretcher-case in front of Florence Nightingale is tended to by one of her most loyal nurses, Mrs. Roberts, and Dr. Cruikshanks, a medical officer who was, in fact, resistant to Nightingale's changes. Behind him is Revd. Mother Mary Clare, another of her close allies, and next to her, the tall man in whiskers, Major Sillery, military commandant of the hospital at the time of Nightingale's arrival. The woman on the left next to Soyer is another nurse, Miss Tebbut and, near her, a boy drummer called Robert Robinson who ran errands for Florence Nightingale. The artist has included himself, looking down on the scene from the window.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG 2939a: Sketch of 'The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari' (sketch)
  • NPG 4305: Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari' (sketch)
  • NPG 2939: Florence Nightingale (study)
  • NPG D43044: Florence Nightingale at Scutari. A Mission of Mercy (after)

Linked publicationsback to top

Placesback to top

  • Place portrayed: Turkey (Scutari, Istanbul)

Events of 1857back to top

Current affairs

Palmerston passes the Matrimonial Causes Act in the face of parliamentary opposition. The act establishes divorce courts, although women, unlike men, are not allowed to sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition is held, a follow-up to the Great Exhibition of 1851, although highlighting Britain's private art collections rather than industry and technology. More than 1.3 million people visit the event.

Art and science

Elizabeth Gaskell publishes The Life of Charlotte Brontë, a year after the author's death. The controversial biography consolidates the myth of the Brontë sisters as isolated geniuses living in remote Yorkshire.
Illustrator George Scharf becomes the first Secretary of the National Portrait Gallery, overseeing the collection's growth and its several moves around London before a permanent home is established in 1896, the year after Scharf's death.


The Indian Mutiny takes place following the insensitive response of the British army to complaints by Muslim and Hindu sepoys about using animal grease on their gun cartridges, which results in a horrific and violent uprising. The event precipitated a more involved role by the British government in India, taking over responsibility from the East India company.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.