James Webb

(1825 - 1895)

St. Paul’s from the River Thames

Signed, on the log, lower right: James Webb; also signed and dated, lower right: James Webb/’75’
Oil on canvas
32 x 60 in – 80.4 x 152.5 cm
Frame size
37 x 65¼ in – 94 x 165.7 cm

Tel.: +44 (0)20 7839 7693


Private collection
Painted from a south westerly viewpoint on Bankside, the present work is a dramatic tribute to the City of London; the fleet of trade vessels around Queenshythe dock evoke a strong sense of thriving industry while the skyline is dominated by St. Paul’s Cathedral. A number of lesser spires are silhouetted between the cathedral and the river; referencing an 1868 map by cartographer Edward Weller (1819-1884), it seems likely that the dome south east of St. Paul’s is that of St. Benet’s church which was destroyed by the Great Fire of London and rebuilt to Sir Christopher Wren designs in 1683. The next tower is likely to be the church of St. Mary Magdalene of Old Fish Street, a twelfth-century church also destroyed in the fire of 1666, but rebuilt incorporating some of the original materials in 1687. The spire nearest the docks, looks to be St. Michael’s Queenshythe, yet another victim of the great fire and also rebuilt to Wren designs before being demolished in 1876, the year after the present work. The decision was part of the Union of Benefices act, passed in 1860 to reduce the number of churches in the City which were becoming redundant due to the mass migration of workers to the suburbs. The pale bell tower in the middle distance seems to be St. Mary-le-Bow, one of the first churches to be rebuilt after the great fire by Wren. It was badly damaged during the blitz but reconstructed in the late 1950s with the famous bells finally ringing again in 1961.

James Webb