Chelsea Pensioners reading the Waterloo Dispatch by David Wilkie


Chelsea Pensioners reading the Waterloo Dispatch


David Wilkie

Ref GM1400
Type Fine Art Print
Image Size 34" x 22" (86 x 56 cm)
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Outside Chelsea Hospital on 22nd June 1815, a Chelsea Pensioner reads aloud the Gazette of Waterloo, the official account of victory over Napoleon. Among some 50 figures, there are more than 15 character studies including a black dog known as "The Old Duke" which followed the Blues Regiment through Spain. Wellington commissioned this painting in 1816, the year after Waterloo, as a parcel of old soldiers at some public house in the King's Road, Chelsea. He must have intended it as a tribute to his troops in the manner of the anecdotal Dutch genre paintings he was buying in Paris at that time. This was Wellington's most expensive painting. He paid Wilkie £1,260 for it. When it was exhibited at The Royal Academy in 1822, hung next to Thomas Lawrence's portrait of The Duke, a rail had to be installed to keep the jostling crowds at bay.