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 Robert Burns Wilson  (1851 - 1916)

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Lived/Active: Kentucky/Pennsylvania/New York      Known for: portrait, sea-landscape and animal painting

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Ad Code: 3
Robert Burns Wilson
from Auction House Records.
Landscape with Harvesters
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Painter and poet, Robert Burns Wilson wrote "Remember the Maine," which helped carry the nation into the Spanish-American War.  Wilson was a Pennsylvania native who came to Kentucky in 1871.  He worked in Louisville, but in 1875 moved to Frankfort, where portrait commissions awaited.

He lived in Frankfort for close to 30 years.  He began painting landscapes in the 1880s. In 1904 he moved to New York and remained in the East until his death.  He studied art in Pittsburgh, where he was a studio mate of John White Alexander.

Submitted as a bulletin by Bob Higgins

Biography from Williams American Art Galleries:
Robert Burns Wilson was born around 1851 in Parker, Pennsylvania.  Orphaned at a young age, he spent his childhood in Virginia and West Virginia.  In 1869, he left home with the desire to be an artist.  He spent about a year traveling with the Hagenbeck Circus before settling briefly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to study art. 

For a short time, he maintained a studio with John White Alexander, a prominent American artist prolific in the “art nouveau” style.  In 1871, he moved to Union City, Kentucky, but a few years later, in 1875, the possibility of portrait commissions lured him to Frankfort, Kentucky where he lived for approximately thirty years. 

Wilson demonstrated his American pride in 1989 when his poem, titled “Remember the Maine,” was published in the New York Herald.  The poem, filled with patriotism, became the battle song for the United States during the Spanish-American War. 

In 1904, shortly after marriage and the birth of his only child, he moved to New York City.  He lived in Brooklyn under financial strain and died on 31 March 1916. 

Wilson preferred to work in watercolor, oil, pastel and charcoal.  He is best known for his depictions of animals and, beginning in the early 1880s, his landscapes.
Pittsburgh, PA, 1871

Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Annual, 1881
Art Institute of Chicago, 1908
“The Kentucky Printer from the Frontier Era to the Great War,”
Southern States Art League, Henderson, Kentucky, c. 1900 (medal)
University of Kentucky, 1981

Owensboro (KY) Museum of Fine Arts
University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY      
Falk, Who Was Who in American Art
Jones and Weber, The Kentucky Painter from the Frontier     
     Era to the Great War
Opitz (ed.), Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American
     Painters, Sculptors and Engravers
Wilson, “Remember the Maine,” New York Herald 

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