The Times, August 7th 2006

Found, the portrait of reluctant heroine
By Dalya Alberge

This 1850s photograph of Florence Nightingale, who nursed British soldiers during the Crimean War, has been discovered.

A MODEST heroine sits quietly reading after overcoming her usual reluctance to be photographed. This previously unknown portrait of Florence Nightingale has come to light for the first time since it was taken in the 1850s.

The find is all the more important as only seven other photographs of the nursing pioneer are known to exist. The “Lady of the Lamp” had been hailed as a heroine on her return from caring for British troops in the Crimea, but she had an intense objection to “making a show of myself” as she felt she was simply doing God’s work.

The portrait, at the age of 38, was taken in the grounds of her family home at Embley Park, Hampshire, in May 1858 by William Slater, a chemist and amateur photographer, and his assistant, William Frost. Her connection with Slater began when she ordered a medical box from him to take to the Crimea.

The picture was among three unpublished albums of 19th-century photographs that had remained with Slater’s descendants. One album has been donated to the Florence Nightingale Museum at St Thomas’ Hospital in Lambeth, Central London, where the portrait is on display from today until November 7.