The painter Robert Fowler was born in Anstruther, Fife, but the family settled in Liverpool, and much of his life's work was carried out there. Despite early artistic proclivities, his parents 'being Scottish, found the idea of an artistic son had much in it that was repugnant to them', and he was sent into commerce, and then to an architect. But his drawings caused his employer to persuade his father that after all he should become an artist. So he went to London, to Heatherley's and the Academy Schools, and the British Museum to draw from the antique. He was forced to withdraw from the Academy Schools due to health problems, and after a period of rest in Yorkshire, worked as an artist in Liverpool, displaying his work at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibitions from 1875, and at the RA from the following year. He also sent pictures abroad, winning particular recognition in Germany. He seems to have lead an aesthetic existence from his Liverpool studio:
It is one of Mr Fowler's qualities to attract all sorts and conditions of artists, and his studio has long been a rendezvous for aspiring poets, prose-writers, musicians and painters.In the early 1900s, Fowler moved permanently to London.
Fowler's work was in a vaguely symbolist, vaguely Classical style, somewhat after Leighton or Albert Moore, mixed in with a strong Japanese influence. His work of the 1880s typically included tableaux of classical girls with old pots and flowers. His drapery was good, but his figures posed, with faces rather more commonplace than Albert Moore's girls, and he was unabashed by mixing the classical figures with Japanese bowls. He also produced landscapes, and many of his figure subjects have much attention taken with the backgrounds.
Fowler's illustrative work included posters for the Walker Art Gallery exhibition in 1924.
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