Born in North Shields on the Tyne but brought up in Barnet, London, Birket Foster was apprenticed to a wood engraver. He took up watercolour painting after his 1852-4 tour of the Rhineland and became a member of the Old Water-Colour Society in 1860. In 1863 he moved to Witley and it was from then on that his most typical watercolours of children engaged in rustic pastimes, such as bird's nesting and blackberrying, were executed.
He 'stands as one of England's most popular landscape draughtsmen and as a painter in water-colour of great distinction' the Dalziel Brothers recalled after the artist's death; while the Daily Graphic (26 December 1906) exclaimed 'Birket Foster produced something new - he was a tête d'école... never approached by any other of his followers or rivals'. Christopher Newall, in his Victorian
Watercolours, London, 1987, p. 60, discusses Birket Foster's combination of 'progressive and traditional methods' and praises his 'vibrant colours unified and made tonally harmonious by the virtuosity of his stippled bodycolour technique'.