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German-American, 1816–1868)
Florence Nightingale at Scutari
Signed E Leutze and dated 1864, lower right
Oil on canvas, 171/4 x 21 inches
Provenance, exhibition history, and literature available
Courtesy of Debra Force Fine Art, Inc.

When Emanuel Leutze began painting his well-known Washington Crossing the Delaware (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) in 1849, he was already considered America’s foremost history painter. His carefully researched and meticulously painted works, often presented in theatrical style, secured him many commissions throughout the mid-nineteenth century.

During the Civil War, the Women’s Central Relief Association organized art fairs to raise money for the United States Sanitary Commission (the predecessor of the American Red Cross), whose charge it was to ensure the health and safety of Union soldiers. Every fair included displays of art, artifacts, and curios. The association’s largest undertaking was the 1864 New York Metropolitan Fair in which several monumental works were exhibited including Frederick Church’s Heart of the Andes (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware and Florence Nightingale at Scutari. Nightingale (1820–1910) is depicted tending wounded British soldiers after a battle during the Crimean War (1854– 1856), a subject that resonated with the American public during its own civil conflict. A critic wrote that this image of the celebrated English nurse was “a very appropriate and poetical work for the fair…exquisitely portrayed.”

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