Born at Bath, in 1815. He was the son of the painter Thomas Barker and studied in Paris under Horace Vernet, in 1835-45 exhibited much at the Salon and subsequently at the Royal Academy. Probably influenced by Vernet, some of his earliest military paintings were of scenes from the Napoleonic Wars including his 1853 Royal Academy piece "Wellington at Sobrauren". In his later life he was known especially as a military painter, and observed on the spot the Franco-Prussian War, although it is unclear whether he witnessed the Crimean War, first-hand. He did exhibit a number of paintings depicting this war. One of his most famous paintings from the 1850s was "The Relief of Lucknow" completed in 1859. The picture which was shown to Queen Victoria in May 1860, contained numerous portraits based on sketches taken by the Swedish artist Egron Lundgren, who had traveled to India in 1858. Other significant works by Barker include "The Bride of Death" (1840); "The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher" (1851); "Wellington Crossing the Pyrenees (1857);" "The Mêlée - Charge of Cuirassiers and Chasseurs" (1872); "Balaklava - One of the Six Hundred" (1874); "The Return through the Valley of Death" (1876); "Major General Williams and His Staff Leaving Kars 28 Nov. 1855" (1857); and "Riderless War-Horses after the Battle of Sedan" (1873).