As an adolescent Herbert was apprenticed to a boatbuilder, but soon threw it in to become a painter, specialising in coastal and fishing scenes, mainly of Suffolk and the Netherlands. He exhibited at the Society of British Artists between 1844 and 1855, and at the Royal Academy between 1847 and 1860. His work was not particuarly popular and sold for low prices. In 1849 he married Emily Maria Ford. He died suddenly at his home in Barnes (then part of Surrey), leaving his 'widow and children in distressed circumstances' (according to the ODNB).