Mersea, Sunset. 1924. Etching. Hardie 222. 8 5/16 x 14 3/8 (sheet 11 x 16 3/4). Edition 76, #A20. Illustrated: Fine Prints of the Year, 1925; Holme, Etchings of Today, (London: The Studio, 1929), plate 26. A rich impression with drypoint burr and plate tone, printed on antique cream colored wove paper. Signed and numbered in ink. Housed in a 16 x 22-inch archival mat, suitable for framing.
Hardie writes, "On the foreshore at West Mersea a ketch is beached for repairs. One lee-board is half suspended on the port side, where a horse and cart are standing on the wet sand. Fishing boats are moored in the creek on either side; and over all is the glow of the setting sun.
Mersea Island is an island in Essex, England, in the Blackwater and Colne estuaries to the south-east of Colchester. Its name comes from the Old English word meresig, meaning "island of the pool". The island is split into two main areas, West Mersea and East Mersea, and connected to the mainland by the Strood, a causeway that can flood at high tide. The island has been inhabited since pre-Roman times. It was used as a holiday destination in Roman Britain for occupants of Camulodunum (Colchester).
Born in Newburgh near Aberdeen, James McBey attended evening classes at Graydon's School of Art and taught himself etching, building his own press at the age of fifteen. He moved to London to prepare for a one-man show at Goupil's Gallery, and shortly after this highly successful first show, he traveled to Morocco with James Kerr Lawson, beginning a long association with North Africa.
McBey enlisted in the military in 1916. His pictures of the Somme led to his appointment 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. v McBey visited America in 1929, where he met Marguerite Loeb in Philadelphia. The two married in 1930 and, together, they settled in the region of North Africa, buying a house in Tangier and another in Marrakesh. McBey lived in America during World War II and was even able to find some work, but in 1946 they returned to Tangier where McBey continued to work until his death in 1959.
His etchings are varied in subject, but all show his excellent draftmanship and his sense of light. He was particularly good at depicting the North African desert, water scenes and cities such as New York, Venice and Rotterdam.