James Webb was born and lived all his life in Chelsea, London. He was a landscape painter specialising in coastal and port scenes.
Webb painted scenes in England, Wales, Holland, France and along the Rhine. He painted figures and buildings with as much competence as he did landscape backgrounds, and his paintings have a feeling of tranquility and harmony to them. Webb used pale colours, but painted in a robust naturalistic style. He was influenced by J. M. W. Turner.
James Webb came from a very artistic family. His father, Archibald Webb, was also a landscape painter who painted a very famous picture of the Battle of Trafalgar. His brother, Byron Webb, was a London painter of animals who specialised in Highland deer, horse portraits and hunting and skating scenes.
Webb exhibited in London from 1850 to 1888, he had works at the Royal Academy (29), the Royal Society of Artists Gallery at Suffolk Street, The British Institute, The New Watercolour Society and The Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
His works are represented in The Tate, The Victoria and Albert Museum and nearly all the important provincial museums in England.