There are few, if any, painters who can say they rallied a country to war, but Robert Burns Wilson could. As a poet he wrote Remember the Maine, which helped carry the nation into the Spanish-American War.
Burns Wilson, a Pennsylvania native, studied art in Pittsburgh, where he was a studio mate of John White Alexander. He came to Kentucky in 1871 and worked in Louisville until 1875 when he moved to Frankfort for its lucrative portrait commissions. He lived in the capital city for close to 30 years. In 1904 he moved to New York and remained in the East until his death.
Burns Wilson began painting landscapes in the 1880s, roughly about the same time as another transplant to Frankfort, Paul Sawyier. Sawyier’s family came to Frankfort from Ohio in 1870. Both artists worked extensively in watercolor. Sawyier, too, moved to New York City, in 1913. Burns Wilson died in 1916, Sawyier in 1917.