View of San Sebastian

A dramatic evocation of the coast at San Sebastian in northern Spain. Monte Urgull rises up in the centre of the painting with the buildings of the Castillo de Santa Cruz de la Mota shown on the sides and summit. In the background lie the mountains of the coastal range, higher on the right. The bay fronting the town is shown on the right with a long sandy foreshore leading towards its outlying buildings partly visible in the distance. The centre of San Sebastian, round the small harbour and old walled town, are not shown since they are hidden beyond the right flank of Monte Urgull. In the foreground a fishing boat is beached in front of a small outcrop of rock and a number of men and women are engaged in various fishing transactions. In the foreground on the right are wooden rollers for beaching and launching boats, and an anchor, from which a rope trails across the beach.

The artist was born in Chelsea in 1835 (not 1825, as often stated) and was second son of the marine painter Archibald Webb. His older brother was Byron Webb (1831-67) a good and widely exhibiting painter of mainly Scottish Highland animal subjects. James worked mainly in London producing coastal scenes including in Holland, Italy, France and Spain, though they often take great liberties with topography for dramatic effect. He exhibited from 1851 and regularly at the Royal Academy between 1853 and 1888. Though he had done well enough to hold bank investments in the 1870s and '80s, he filed for bankruptcy in 1889 and was discharged in 1892, in effect destitute. He appears to have died of flu early in 1895, possibly in the Dartford area of Kent and - though unproved - it is circumstantially possible he was at the time taking ship from the Thames to join two brothers and a married sister who had settled as farmers in America. Although he married in the 1860s he appears to have had no children.

Object Details

ID: BHC1929
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Webb, James
Date made: Mid - Late 19th century; 1870s
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Presented by Sir Bruce Ingram, 1950.
Measurements: Painting: 1015 mm x 1675 mm; Weight Overall: 68.8kg; Frame: 1421 mm x 2083 mm x 163 mm

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