In a nutshell:
Will you help to save this slice of history for our region's museums? Tees Valley Arts is coordinating a fundraising effort to save this important portrait for the museums of Tees Valley. The painting will be accessioned jointly by the Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough, Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar and the Head of Steam in Darlington, with the aim of making it available to all the museums in the region that has been so profoundly shaped by the industrious nature of the Pease family. Any additional funds raised will support the research and display of the painting. £2, £5, £10, £20 ... Or anything that you can afford to help make this people powered museum purchase a reality.
The picture depicts Henry Pease one of our leading industrialists. He is perhaps best known as a railway pioneer, part of the Pease family behind the Stockton to Darlington Railway, the world's first passenger railway. Or else he is remembered for his vision of a new town on the cliffs of the North East coast, a vision that became the town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
Perhaps less well known is his role as a peace activist. He campaigned to prevent the Crimean Conflict, even visiting the Russian Tsar in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful resolution. When that failed, he was received in Paris by the Emperor Louis Napoleon, with the aim of establishing a Peace Congress in the city.
Whilst he was not successful in his efforts to prevent the Crimean Conflict - the weights of two empires being against him - it is perhaps this context that makes the current portrait so important. The artist was Jerry Barrett, a Victorian painter who is most well remembered for his own paintings of the Crimean War. Among these are two paintings hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, one depicting Queen Victoria visiting her soldiers and another showing Florence Nightingale tending to the wounded. We don't know how this campaigner for peace and this painter of conflict first met but the portrait is a lasting testament to both men's involvement in the war.
The Mission of Mercy: Florence Nightingale receiving the Wounded at Scutari by Jerry Barrett oil on canvas, 1857 57 7/8 in. x 85 7/8 in. (1470 mm x 2182 mm) overall Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, 1993 NPG 6202 © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Possibly commissioned by Henry Pease's wife, Mary, the painting was completed in the year after Henry's death. A vintage photograph of the interior of Pierremont Hall in Darlington (the home of Henry and Mary), shows this painting hanging in a hallway: