Wesley Webber (1839-1914)
Landscape and marine painter Wesley Webber was born in Gardiner, Maine in 1839 and died in Wollaston, Massachusetts in November 1914. He lived in Boston from 1870 to 1890 and in New York City from 1892. He was self-taught. He is considered one of the finer landscape painters who painted from life in the Conway area of New Hampshire and along the New England coast, and he is reminiscent of the Hudson River School in style and manner.
Webber served in the Civil War and was present at General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. His original sketches made at the surrender, along with his finished illustrations of the Civil War, were shown at the Boston Art Club and brought Webber considerable fame, recognition, and fortune. Many of his Civil War scenes were published as wood engravings in Harper’s Weekly and as a lithograph published by J.H. Bufford of Boston. He was discharged from Civil War service in 1865. He opened a studio in Gardiner, where he became a carriage painter. Thereafter, Webber earned a fine reputation as a marine and landscape painter, but at the end of his life his style weakened along with his reputation.
Webber shared a Boston studio in Pemberton Square and then shared a Boston studio with marine painter William P. Stubbs (1842-1909) and kept other studios in New York City until his death. Every summer he went to Conway, New Hampshire to paint the hillside, where painters John J. Enneking, Frank Shapleigh, and others joined him to paint. He also painted in Manchester-by-the-Sea, in Nova Scotia, and in Canada. Two of his most famous paintings are Kennebec River, Maine Boat Shop and Unidentified Vessels Ice-bound at Gloucester (both at the Peabody Museum, Salem, MA). He is also represented in the permanent collections of the Boston Athenaeum, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art. Webber was a member of the Boston Art Club.
Webber’s White Mountain scenes are dated for 1873 to 1876. His paintings were largely in the Conway area, but one is titled Androscoggin River near Gorham, NH while another is titled Outlet of Winnipiseogee [sic] Lake.
From 1897 to 1914 Webber’s New York City studio at 11 East 14th Street was filled with artists. In 1914 he left the city for his daughter’s home in Wollaston, MA, where he died. In February 1915, his family sold the contents of his studio at the Boston auction house of C.F. Libbie and Company. The artist is buried in Gardiner, Maine.