A Chelsea Pensioner by Feller, 1890
A Chelsea Pensioner by Frank Feller, published by J. S. Virtue & Co. Ltd., 1890
A Chelsea pensioner is a retired member of the British Army, who resides at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was established by King Charles II for the care of old or sick servicemen. In 1689, he devised a system for the distribution of pensions to army men. Those who were no longer fit to serve could choose either to receive a pension or they could relinquish their pension in exchange for room, board, and full medical care at the hospital. Those who chose to take their pension were referred to as out-pensioners since they lived elsewhere, while in-pensioners lived at the hospital. The term Chelsea pensioner can be used for either, but it mostly indicates a resident of the Royal Hospital. All residents were men until 2009 when women who had served in the army were permitted to join.
This chromolithograph by Frank Feller, a Swiss artist (active 1880-1910), was published in Walter Richards' Her Majesty's Army: A Descriptive Account of the Various Regiments Now Comprising the Queen's Forces, from their first Establishment to the Present Time, in 1890.
James Sprent Virtue (1829-1892) was the second son of George Virtue, founder of a London based publishing business, which focused on the production of illustrated works. James was sent to New York, by his father, in 1848 to promote a market for Virtue books. The company had fifteen branches in the United Sates and Canada by 1852. He later returned to England and took over the business upon his father's retirement. Virtue was also the proprietor of The Art Journal, which his father had bought in 1848. The magazine established in 1839, by Arthur Hall, had originally been called the Art Union Monthly Journal. George Virtue renamed it in 1849 and it became the leading art magazine in Great Britain, until it ceased publication in 1912.
- Naomi Bean