Samuel Lord Wise (1853 - 1908)
Born in Ohio, Samuel L. Wise studied art under Aurelius O. Revenaugh (1840-1908) in Jackson, Michigan, and under Walter Satterlee (1844-1908) in New York. His obituary also mentions having studied in Europe although where and when is currently unknown. In 1878 the artist married Georgia Armes of Lansing. He was elected Instructor in Art at Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan, January 1, 1892, and maintained that position through the 1897-98 school year. The artist also kept a studio in Lansing, Michigan from the early 1880’s until around the turn of the century.
But success was not to be. According to the tale told in his obituary; “The older residents of this city [Lansing, Michigan] will recall days when Mr. Wise was achieving a fine reputation as a portrait painter, and the way seemed open to him for a fine career as an artist. Statesmen and politicians gave him commissions, and he painted the portraits of some of the most noted men in the state. And when fame was just within his grasp, Wise removed to Detroit, where his studio became as popular as the one he had formerly conducted in Lansing. In addition to his painting, he was at the head of the art room of the Bailey Company, manufacturers of statuary. Flushed with success he commenced to drink, and started on the career that made him known as ‘Sam’ to the river front wrecks. He fought against the habit without avail, and of late years he spent his entire time among the cheap saloons in the worst districts of Detroit. He had but little of the talent left of his younger days, and died Thursday night [Christmas Eve, 1908] while being removed from the ambulance to the Detroit Sanatorium.”
Biographical information from Olivet College Archives and the artist’s obituary, Lansing Journal, December 26, 1908.
Written and submitted by Edward P. Bentley, researcher from Lansing, Michigan