Gallery saves important Victorian portrait

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The National Portrait Gallery has retained a 19th-century portrait of a famous black nurse thanks to £96,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The only known painting of Mary Seacole, a nurse in the Crimean War and contemporary of Florence Nightingale, shows her wearing medals awarded for service. The oil picture, by Albert Challen in 1869, has been on loan to the Gallery in London since 2004 after being discoverd by historian Helen Rappaport. It was uncovered at a car boot sale in Oxfordshire in 2003 and will now be on permanent display at the Gallery after being purchased for £130,000.

Wesley Kerr, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund Committee for London, said: 'This is a moving and powerful painting that brings to life the courage, compassion and determination of an important figure in British history. As a woman and as a West Indian of mixed race she broke many barriers to make a huge contribution to Victorian society.'..

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