Born in Scotland in 1883, he attended evening classes at Graydon's School of Art. At the age of fifteen he taught himself etching, building his own press. He moved to London where he was given a one-man show at Goupil's; which was highly successful. After that he traveled to Morocco with James Kerr Lawson, where he began a long association with North Africa. In 1916 he enlisted in the military then was appointed as an Official War Artist in 1917. He was sent to Egypt where he completed some 300 watercolors of the campaign in Egypt and Palestine. He visited America in 1929, met his wife and married in 1930. They returned to North America, where they lived for the majority of their remaining years. McBey continued to work until his death in 1959.
James McBey was strongly influenced by Rembrandt, Whistler and Forain; but none of his work has a hint of imitation. In a lecture put on by the British school of etching for the Print Collectors' Club in 1921 it was said in summing up McBey's chief characteristic and value of his work that "he has brought to etching – whether of landscape or figure subject – a new sense of animation and movement. His work is dynamic instead of static. In "El Soko" we cannot but appreciate, not merely the rhythm of design and the suggestion to and fro of crowds of white-robed figures – a brilliant thing to accomplish, not with colour, but with line."
This etching is signed by McBey on the lower right side, XXXIV, dated 1912. The plate size is 7 X 9 ¼ inches. I have the original receipt for this etching that was purchased in 1919 by the original owner from M. Knoedler & Co. of NYC.
Regarding condition, this piece looks to be in good condition; there are no rips or tears or marks. It's in a very old frame, so I am sure the backing does not meet today's standards. I have not inspected the piece outside of the frame.
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