A landscape painter of the second generation of the Hudson River School, John Dodgson Barrow grew up in England, moving to the the United States in 1843. He ran a bookstore in Skaneateles, New York, until 1856 at which time he established himself as a painter in New York City.
He occupied a studio adjoining that of his friend, Charles Loring Elliot. During this time he fulfilled portrait commissions, most notably his portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Another friend, George Inness, encouraged his interest in landscape painting.
Most of his landscape paintings developed from sketches and memories of his frequent trips to his family's home in Skaneateles, New York, where he eventually returned in 1876. He painted at Lake Ontario, Lake George, Lake Champlain, the Thousand Islands, and in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Barrow exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum in 1866 and 1867, the National Academy of Design from 1852 to 1888, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1865 to 1869 and 1882.
Peter Falk (ed.), Who Was Who in American Art