Monday, October 30, 2017

Birth Dates of Notable Kentuckians: October 30, 1850 - Robert Burns Wilson

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From The Kentucky Encyclopedia –
Robert Burns Wilson, artist and poet, was born to Thomas M. and Elizabeth Anne (McLean) Wilson on October 30, 1850, near Parker, Pennsylvania. An orphan at the age of ten, Wilson lived with his grandparents in Wheeling, West Virginia. In 1871 he moved to Pittsburgh, where he studied art and shared a studio with John W. Alexander. After a year, Wilson moved to Louisville, where his drawings included a crayon portrait of Henry Watterson , editor of the Courier-Journal. In 1875 Wilson moved to Frankfort, Kentucky, where local residents were the subjects of most of his portraits, in oil, crayon, and charcoal. He reserved watercolor for Kentucky landscapes, many depicting the Kentucky River and Elkhorn Creek, among them The Land of the Sky, The Cedars of Culmer's Hill, and The Quiet Fields. Several of his Kentucky landscapes were well-received at both the 1883 Louisville and 1884 New Orleans exhibitions.

One of Wilson's poems, " When Evening Cometh On," was published in Harper's Magazine in 1885. He published three books of poetry: Life and Love (1887), Chant of a Woodland Spirit (1894), and The Shadows of the Trees (1898). Wilson wrote " Remember the Maine" shortly after the sinking of the battleship U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor. The poem, set to music, brought instant acclaim to the author and became the U.S. battle song in the Spanish- American War.

Wilson married Anne Hendricks of Frankfort on March 4, 1901. They had one daughter, Elizabeth. The family moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1904, where Wilson believed his painting would have a wider audience. He died on March 31, 1916, in Brooklyn and was buried in the Frankfort Cemetery. 

J. Winston Coleman, Jr., Robert Burns Wilson: Kentucky Painter, Novelist and Poet (Lexington, Ky., 1956).

Selected Sources from UK Libraries:

Coleman, J. Winston. Robert Burns Wilson : Kentucky Painter, Novelist, and Poet. Lexington, Ky.: Winburn, 1956. Print.
ND237.W74 C6, Fine Arts Library - Closed Stacks

Smith, Joshua Soule. Joshua Soule Smith Papers, 1865-1903. (1865). Print.
52M1, Special Collections Archives

Fox, John. Fox Family Papers, 1852-1962, 1852-1920 (bulk Dates) (1852). Print.
64M122, Special Collections Archives

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