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March 27, 2018

A Rare 19th Century Photograph of Florence Nightingale Not Discovered Until 2006

Florence Nightingale is one of nursing’s most important figures. She gained worldwide attention for her work as a nurse during the Crimean War. She was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night to tend to injured soldiers.

Early photographs of Florence Nightingale are very rare because she was extremely reluctant to be photographed, partly for religious reasons and also because she regarded any personal publicity as detrimental to the causes of public health.

The photo above was taken in 1858 and discovered in an album of mid 19th century photographs and shows Florence sitting reading outside her family home in Embley Park, Hampshire two years after her return from the war.

Another rare photo of Florence Nightingale surfaced in 2008. The black and white image of the silver-haired nursing pioneer shows her in the imposing bedroom of her home just off London’s Park Lane, before her death in 1910 at the age of 90.

It’s the last photograph taken of her, and was taken by Lizzie Caswall Smith, a noted studio photographer in the early 1900s who specialized in celebrity and society studio portraits. On the back of the photo Caswall Smith wrote, “Taken just before she died, house near Park Lane. The only photograph I ever took out of studio. I shall never forget the experience.”


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