Though born in Dublin, Davis became a member of the distinguished group Liverpool artists - including Huggins, Tonge, J.W. Oakes, A.W. Hunt, W. L. Windus, and Campbell - who became influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites. He began to exhibit at the Liverpool Academy in 1842, becoming a full member in 1853, and holding the post of Professor of Drawing, 1856-59. He also showed at the Royal Academy 1851-72. His early work included still life and figure subjects, but from about 1853 he concentrated on landscape. Rossetti and Madox-Brown admired his pictures and he showed at the circle's private exhibition in Russell Place in 1857 and at the Hogarth Club from 1858. He also shared the patronage of northern collectors who bought their work - John Miller of Liverpool, James Leathart of Newcastle, and George Rae of Birkenhead. Examples of his work are in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead.