Probably Exhibited: London, Royal Academy, 1864, no. 343 titled "Honfleur looking toward Havre-de-Gras".
James Webb (1825-95)
Fishing off the Coast
Oil on canvas, signed and dated 64
73 x 134 cm.
James Webb was a highly accomplished painter whose dramatic coastal and river views proved extremely popular and now, in the light of the renewed interest in Victorian painting, are once more highly sought after. His works can be found in many private collections and are represented in nearly every English museum as well as others throughout the world. Born in Chelsea, London, he was most probably the son of the marine and landscape painter, Archibald Webb (fl. 1800-66), and brother of the animal painter, Byron Webb (fl.1846-66). Webb's robust use of paint, his pale yet atmospheric palette and his ability to capture effects of light owed much to his knowledge of Constable and Turner. Like them he tended to work directly from nature and as an exponent of 'plein air' painting, his work is characterized by a remarkable freshness.
Like many of his profession, James Webb travelled extensively. He toured the British Isles, ventured throughout Europe and also painted in Egypt and Turkey. His English views include scenes of Gloucester (e.g. at National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne) and of North Devon (e.g. Glasgow Art Gallery). He also portrayed one of Turner's favoured subjects - Bamburgh Castle on the Northumbrian coast (e.g. at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). Other British views include scenes of Mont Orguiel Castle, Jersey (e.g. Nottingham, University Art Gallery) and St. Michael's Mount rising from the Cornish waters (e.g. the Tate Gallery, London and Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield).
Other artists, notably Clarkson Stanfield (1793-1867) portrayed St. Michael's Mount, as well as the Dutch beach at Scheveningen, which Webb also depicted. Webb spent some time in Belgium, especially at Namur and also toured France, depicting the coast of Honfleur, Calais and St. Malo and travelled inland toward Rennes and Paris. He visited Italy, painting in Rome and Venice and the island of Ischia, where like Clarkson Stanfield before, he portrayed the Castello on its massive rock (e.g. Phoenix Museum of Art, Arizona). Webb also explored Germany, following the course of the Rhine through Cologne, Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein (e.g. Montreal Art Association). Like many European artists, Webb was attracted to the East. He painted a number of scenes in Egypt (e.g. Street Scene in Cairo at the National Gallery, Sydney) and Constantinople in Turkey. At least seven oils by him of the Ottoman City are known, painted between about 1872-6. One example hangs at Manchester City Art Gallery and another at Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery.
His painting frequently hung in the London exhibitions, notably at the Royal Academy where he exhibited regularly from 1853-88. He also showed his works at the British Institution, 1852-67, as well as the Royal Society of British Artists, the New Watercolour Society, the Grosvenor Gallery and at the Paris Salon. Many major museums, throughout the world own examples of his work including two at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and at the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery own three of his works while the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Reading Museum and Art Gallery and Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum each own two. Other examples by Webb can be found at the art galleries at Bournemouth, Leicester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield. He is also represented abroad at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; the National Gallery, Sydney and at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. In addition Montreal Art Association and Phoenix Museum of Art, Arizona both own examples from his distinguished career.