The son of a landscape painter in oils, Barret was born in London, a city he was rarely to leave except for sketching excursions in the Home Counties and, less often, in Wales. His early works are chiefly topographical views in oils, but after the formation of the Old Water-Colour Society in 1804, in which Barret played a part, he concentrated on painting in watercolors, regularly showing at the Society's exhibitions. His later works are poetic inventions influenced by Claude Lorrain and other Ideal landscape painters. From time to time Barret collaborated with other artist, notably Joshua Cristall around 1830, and in 1840 he published The Theory and Practice of Water-Colour Painting. Like his father before him, he died destitute. (Wilton/Lyles 1993, p. 312)
The Great Age of British Watercolors 1750-1880. Exh. cat. NGA, 1993.