William Edward Webb (1862-1903)


A success story nearly 100 years in the making, Webb’s validation as a top-level marine artist rests primarily with the quality marine paintings he left the world. A permanent resident of Manchester, he widely frequented the coasts and ports of Great Britain, producing an impressive output of active scenes celebrating the challenges faced by those who plied their trades on the open ocean.

Webb exhibited more than 60 paintings from 1890 to 1904, mostly in his hometown, but also with the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and three times with the Royal Academy in London. Greater commercial recognition came to Webb posthumously partially through the efforts of author Denys Brook-Hart, who saw what he identified as the extreme first-hand excellence of the artist, and organized a large showing of his works in 1974 at the Old Customs House and the Old Solent House Galleries in Lymington, Hampshire. The increase in Webb’s name recognition added to the obvious attraction of his works.

Somewhat flowing in application, Webb’s art is celebratory in spirit while it offers no false glamour of the hard lives faced by working sailors and fishermen in the 19th century. His seas are vibrant and active, his atmospheric light exceedingly realistic of the heavy skies of the British Isles, and his portrayals of the local people artistically insightful. Known scenes included views of the ports of the Isle on Man, Guernsey, Whitby, Falmouth, Cornwall, Poole, Brixham, Portsmouth, Gloustershire, Northumberland and Cardiff, illustrating just some of his wide travels.

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