The landscape artist E. A. Waterlow was born in London, and encouraged in his early interest in sketching because his parents thought art was a suitable profession for their rather sickly child. He studied at Cary's Academy, then spent a period abroad in Switzerland and Germany, developing an interest in landscape painting. In 1872 he returned to England, entered the Royal Academy Schools, and exhibited his first picture on the Academy walls - Evening in Dovedale, Devonshire. The following year he gained a gold medal for a landscape entitled The Landstorm. He continued to exhibit almost every year at the Academy, and gained official recognition when his Galway Gossips - showing a passing rider chatting to a farmer with Irish highlands behind - was bought under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest for the national collection in 1887. He was elected ARA in 1890, RWS in 1894, and President of the RWS in 1897, his name being put forward by Burne-Jones, who knew his art but not the artist. The post had been vacated by the death of John Gilbert, and Waterlow won it over Hubert von Herkomer by the narrowest of margins. In 1902 he was knighted, and the following year became a full Academician.
Waterlow painted mainly along the English coast - he was at Newlyn before the Newlyn School - and in Ireland. In his work he was influenced by Constable, George Mason and Frederick Walker. Waterlow's pictures of figures in landscapes are in the collections of many galleries, notably the Tate Gallery, the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, and the Birmingham gallery, but like so much landscape painting, are likely to be tucked away rather than on exhibition.