Barber was a Manchester painter of genre and portraits. His subjects were fashionably delicate, with titles such as Witchery and 'Twixt hope and fear'. He exhibited at the Dudley Gallery and Royal Academy, where he showed nine pictures 1885-93.
The picture's title derives from Shelley's Ode to a Skylark (1820). An elegaic commentary on the laborious tenor of human experience compared to the freedom embodied by a skylark's swift flight, it inspired many an artist's work.