Rose Barton was born in County Tipperary, second daughter of a wealthy lawyer. She studied in Paris in the studio of Henri Gervex alongside Mildred Anne Butler, and it was here that she acquired her fondness for plein air sketching, common-place subject matter, and her impressionistic technique. She exhibited in both Dublin and London at the Society of Lady Artists, the Royal Institute, the Royal Academy, the Dudley Gallery and the Grosvenor Gallery until her election as an Associate of the Old Watercolour Society in 1893, the same year she showed sixty view of London at the Japanese Gallery in New Bond Street. At her next show at the Clifford Gallery in 1898 the reviewer noted 'Miss Barton realises the artistic possibilities of the perennial fog of London vistas admirably; its attractiveness and mystery which so many obtuse people fail to see are well rendered in her drawings.' These watercolours formed the basis of her book Familiar London, published in 1904.
Chelsea held particular appeal to Barton 'Chelsea is without doubt a happy hunting ground for artists professional and amateur... Chelsea is the Latin quarter of London ... (Chelsea Old Church) has more fascination than any other church in London.' (Familiar London). Barton died in 1929 at her house at 79 Park Mansions, Knightsbridge, London.