This is one of a series of nine head-and-shoulders portraits of Greenwich pensioners by John Burnet. It shows Samuel Wilkes wearing a tricorn hat, jacket and stock. Wilkes had been in the crew of the 'Victory' at Trafalgar in 1805, but where he acquired the nickname of 'Commodore' remains unclear. These sketches were used as studies for a painting, 'Greenwich Hospital and Naval Heroes', commissioned by the Duke of Wellington in 1835 as a pendant to David Wilkie's 'Chelsea Pensioners', now at Apsley House, London. The work was exhibited in 1837, and shows Greenwich pensioners commemorating Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar in Greenwich Park.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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