James McBey (1883-1959)

James McBey was a painter and etcher and one of Scotland's best known artists.

McBey started producing his etchings when working as a bank clerk in Aberdeen in 1907. In 1910 he set up a studio in that city and became a full-time artist. His main influences were Whistler and Rembrandt, and many of his early works were of coastal scenes in the area. During the First World War he was an official war artist in France and Palestine.

After the war McBey took over a studio in London. For a time his etchings fetched high prices at auction, and he exhibited in galleries across the country, including the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. Disillusioned by what he saw as a lack of appreciation of his work at home, he spent much time travelling in the United States, North Africa and the Middle East, buying a house in Tangiers. In later life he concentrated more on portraits. He became an American citizen in 1939, and died in Tangiers in 1959.

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