This fine drawing shows one of the resident 'pensioners' dressed in the distinctive uniform of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea, London. The hospital was founded by Charles II in 1682 for impoverished British servicemen. Wilkie was fascinated by this retired seaman whose crusty looks reminded him of the character of Commodore Trunnion from 'The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle' (1751) by the Scots-born novelist Tobias Smollet. The former seaman's keen eyes suggest his alert mind. Wilkie rarely exhibited his accomplished drawings for most were preparatory studies for paintings, but he included this one at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1824.