Daniel Fowler was born in 1810 in Champion Hill, Camberwell, London, England. He lived in the secluded village of Downe, Kent until 1815. He attended Alfred House Academy in Camberwell, for two years. Followed by studies at Cogan’s School, Walthamstow in London, for six years. He practiced drawing at and early age.
At age eighteen he was called to join the Doctors’ Commons, a society of lawyers, by his father. He had little interest in law and ceased any involvement upon his father’s death in 1829. He tlooked after the damily and his mother’s affairs taking up an interest in drawing again. He took lessons from an artist friend. In 1830 he paid a visit to the water-colour painter William Henry Hunt which gave him vast inspiration.
In 1831, Fowler studied with James Duffield Harding in London. Harding was well known for his publications on landscape drawing and his mastery of water-colours. Fowler’s became familiar with the works of many English landscape painters such as Turner, David Cox, Peter De Wint, and John Sell Cotman. He also met with lithographer Charles Joseph Hullmandel. These new influences and experience led Fowler to paint "en plein air" rather than in the studio.
Fowler began to give drawing lessons in 1832. Around this time he began to feel the effects of tuberculosis, a disease many member of his family suffered from.
He began making frequent sketching trips in England and Wales followed by a tour of Europe in 1834–35. He made the trip with Robert Leake Gale, they travelled through the Swiss and Italian Alps. Their travels were interrupted when Fowler contracted smallpox, he spent a month in Rome recovering from the illness. He produced a large amount of sketches during this time.
Back in London in 1835 he married, set up a studio, and resumed teaching and sketching. Between 1836 and 1842 he exhibited a number of paintings, mainly European and English landscapes, at the Society of British Artists and with The Royal Academy of Arts. He sketched with Edward Lear in England and on the Continent.
Due to health and financial concerns, Fowler, a nurse, and his family immigrated to Upper Canada in 1843, they settled on a farm facing the Bay of Quinte on Amherst Island. He did not produce any paintings for over a decade focusing on faming and improving his families living conditions. The farm became self-sufficient, but their home had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1847.
By 1857 he made a trip to England to visit his mother. With rekindled inspiration and desire to paint he returned home with drawing and painting supplies. He set up a studio in his home and began painting again with watercolours.
In 1859 Fowler took some drawings to England seeking reviews of his work. His work was not received very positively, he returned home and began painting "en plein air" creating more personal works.
In 1863 he exhibited at The Upper Canada Provincial Exhibition in Kingston, Ontario. In the amateur class, he received four first and three second prizes. Until 1868 he continued to send works for the exhibition and won a prize every year. He exhibited "Hollyhocks" in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial International Exhibition winning a bronze medal and diploma. He was the first Canadian artist to win this international prize.
He also exhibited with the Art Association of Montreal from1867–92, the Society of Canadian Artists from 1868–70, the American Society of Painters in Water Colors from 1868–74, and the Ontario Society of Artists from 1873–92.
In 1880 Fowler became a charter member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and he exhibited there until 1893. By this time he was also a member of The Ontario Society of Artists.
He submited paintings to the Industrial Exhibition, Toronto, from 1883 to 1894, he received a medal and diploma in 1886 at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London and in 1893 at the Columbian exposition in Chicago.
In 1885 Fowler was accused of having copied some of his works from prints appearing in travel books.
Along with painting he contributed to articles, letters, and critical reviews during the 1870's and 1880's in periodicals such as the Week, Chambers’s Journal, All the Year Round, and the Canadian Monthly and National Review.
He died in 1894 at his home on Amherst Island, Ontario.
Fowler’s sketches and paintings can be seen at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s Univ. (Kingston, Ont.), the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Hamilton, Ont.), the National Gallery of Canada and the NA, Documentary Art and Photography Division, both in Ottawa, and, in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.