Harper was a London-based painter well known for his coastal scenes depicted in watercolour.
Harper exhibited four works, all maritime and coastal landscapes off Northumberland, at the Royal Society of British Artists between 1856 and 1875. The names of some of these paintings are: Fern Island, Coast of Northumberland, The Stranded Vessel – Evening, View looking north from Tynemouth Pier.
He also exhibited two Northumbrian landscapes at the Royal Academy in 1840.
Harper is represented in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.