Florence Nightingale

Photo of Florence Nightingale from a collection sold for £19,500 at Roseberys.

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The items originally belonged to Eliza Francis ‘Fanny’ Pettit, her companion in later life, and were consigned to Roseberys of West Norwood where they sold for £19,500 (plus 26% buyer’s premium) on December 7, against an estimate of £15,000-25,000.

The two small, 6cm square, original sepia photographs were taken by Pettit herself in c.1910 using her Brownie camera, the year Nightingale died aged 90. They show the former nurse seated on an armchair.

Taken at her house at 10 South Street, Park Lane, London, the images have never been published. They were exhibited in Nightingale In 200 Objects, People & Places, at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London from March 2020 to March 2021, celebrating the bicentenary of her birth.

The lot came to auction by family descent.

Pettit’s great-grandson, Nigel Milton-Tomkins, told The Times that the photos of Nightingale were informal in nature.

“The fact that she’s smiling in one and they’re unposed means they’re practically unique. She was always playing a role of some sort because she was a very public figure. So I don’t think she let her guard down very often.”

Pettit was Nightingale’s lady companion for two years in 1906-07 and lived with her at 10 South Street.

Other items sold included a travelling teapot and silver-plated tea caddy, letters and medical prescriptions.