Showing signs for artistic talent at an early age, Robert Fowler grew up to become a classical painter, in his preferred medium of watercolours. He was born in Scotland in the town of Anstruther, in Fife, and lived for some time with his aunt and uncle as his parents would travel on business. Eventually his family relocated to England, settling in the Liverpool area and Fowler was enrolled at the Liverpool College.
His family preferred that he learn a commercial trade, and even considered him a good applicant for architecture, but they didn’t want him to be an artist. He was sixteen years old when he got a job working in a commercial company; luckily his employer recognized Fowler’s talent. He had seen Fowler’s drawings and suggested, quite firmly, that his parents send him to an art school for training.
In London he joined the Heatherley School of Fine Art and he also studied at the South Kensington School. He particularly liked drawing and painting mythological scenes, and he spent a lot of time in the local galleries and the British Museum drawing copies of the works that were hanging there; his favorites being the Elgin Marbles. Unfortunately his health was poor and he had to leave school to spend a lot of time recuperating, first in Yorkshire and then in Llandudno, which is a small seaside resort town in Wales.
Finally recovering, he returned back to Liverpool and settled there until the turn of the century. He had found himself an art studio on Castle Street where he produced paintings for exhibition in Liverpool at the autumn event in 1875 and in 1876 at the Royal Academy exhibitions. He sent his pieces abroad to both Munich and Paris, to be shown there also, receiving good results in Germany. Fowler’s reputation attracted many artists such as himself, along with musicians and writers as well, to his studio.
In 1891 Fowler joined the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours as well as the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. He used some Japonism and small amounts of Symbolism in many of his paintings, but he did stay vaguely true to classical styles too. His paintings in the 1880’s were mainly landscapes, and the subjects were usually pretty girls with commonplace, but classical features, along with old pots of flowers and jars in the scene. He did not seem to mind mixing the themes and the styles to make them more to his personal liking.
For reasons known only to him, he gave up his Liverpool studio in the early 1900’s and moved to west London. He settled in an area called Chelsea, quickly finding himself a new studio on Tite Street, where he continued to work for the next two decades. He had seen the works of many artists and he was influenced a little by each of them. The artists were Woodlock, Moore, Watts, Whistler, Walker and F. Leighton.