George James Rowe was a distinguished landscape artist who specialised in topographical, often moonlit scenes of Suffolk and London. His style sits firmly within the British Romantic landscape tradition, and shows the influence of his forebears Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable and J. W. M. Turner.
Rowe was a close friend of fellow artist Thomas Churchyard (1798–1865): they spent their early years living on the same street in Woodbridge, Suffolk, and both exhibited with the Norwich Society of British Artists. Early successes inspired a move to London and the establishment of a shared studio in 1832, but both returned to Suffolk soon after, deterred by the costs and competitiveness of the capital.
Rowe moved back to London in 1844, to live at Fitzroy Square, and remained in London for the next forty years, where he taught at the London School of Art and entered works in major exhibitions. His work was shown at the Royal Academy between 1830 and 1865.
Until recently much of Rowe's work has been hidden in the vaults of the Putnam Museum of History and Natural Science in Davenport, Iowa. His sister Anne Catherine Rowe had emigrated to the United States in 1848; she became a personal friend of the Putnam family and donated many works to their collection. Since the Putnam Museum dispersed its Rowe collection, with many auctioned into private hands, it remains challenging to assess the extent of Rowe's portfolio.