Meet Mary Seacole
Mary Seacole, whose image was captured in marble by the sculptor Henry Weekes, became famous in England in the 1850s because of her fearless medical service to British soldiers.
Collection: The J. Paul Getty Museum
"I was born in Kingston, Jamaica. My father was a soldier, of an old Scotch family; and to him I often trace my love of camp-life. My mother kept a boarding house in Kingston, and was, like very many of the Creole women, an admirable doctor ... and so from an early age I had a yearning for medical knowledge and practice which has never left me."
Top of Page
These are the words of Mary Seacole, whose image was captured in marble by the sculptor Henry Weekes in 1859.
Seacole was a brave and energetic nurse who lived more than 100 years ago. She was skilled at treating such deadly diseases as yellow fever and cholera. Her name became famous in England in the 1850s because of her fearless medical service to British soldiers who were fighting in a war.
"I was very young when I began to make use of what I had learned from watching my mother, on ... my doll, whatever diseases were most prevalent in Kingston, be sure my poor doll soon contracted it. Before long, it was very natural that I should seek to extend my practice."
Indeed, Mary Seacole did continue to learn about medicine and healing. When she grew up, she traveled the world as a nurse. Seacole wrote the story of her life, "The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands," which became a huge bestseller. By the time the artist Henry Weekes sculpted her portrait, she was already famous in England. However, Seacole never forgot her upbringing. Notice how Weekes' sculpture includes curling palm leaves to remind us of Mary's homeland, Jamaica.
You can see Mary Seacole's portrait and learn about other portraits in the Getty's collection by visiting the Family Room. Try on costumes worn long ago and pose in front of various backdrops. For more information or parking reservations, call (310) 440-7300 or visit www.getty.edu. Parking reservations are not needed Saturdays and Sunday or after 4 p.m. on weekdays.