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Set in front of the King Charles Court of Greenwich Hospital, with the Thames out of view to the left, this shows a bearded and uniformed Greenwich Pensioner with a wooden leg, talking to a visiting couple and a young boy. The pensioner leans heavily on a walking stick held in his left hand and he gestures with his right. Behind him to the left, is a waterman holding a boathook in his right hand, while behind the well-dressed couple, to the right, another pensioner sits dozing on a bench. Although the narrative indicates that after a lifetime of service at sea, retirement will bring peace, the group on the right remain closely together, keeping a distance from the sailor. Their dress suggests a date around 1810, making the composition a consciously historical set-piece, well before Greenwich Hospital finally closed in 1869.
oil on canvas
H 127 x W 101.6 cm