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James McBey

1883 - 1959

Strange Signals by James McBey

Strange Signals   1919

  Original etching.
Signed and numbered in ink.
Hardie 186
S 260 x 442 mm; P & I 225 x 391 mm
Excellent impression with delicate plate tone applied to the upper sky. From the only edition of 70 signed proofs (76 in all).

Strange Signals is one of the most famous of James McBey’s renowned desert war prints. The image shows two guides in front of the Camel Patrol, gazing fixedly ahead. In the distance, a mirage had appeared giving the momentary impression of smoke signals.

In the summer of 1917 James McBey was appointed by the War Office to the post of Official Artist in Egypt. In this capacity he accompanied the Australian Camel Corps and the troops throughout the desert war, witnessing the attack on Jelil and the liberation of both Jerusalem and Damascus. This period was to be the turning point in James McBey’s career, for the works which he produced out of this experience were to establish him as the most brilliant etcher of his generation.

Inscribed in the plate “Sinai July 1917”, this outstanding etching (like all of James McBey’s desert subjects) was not worked up and completed until some years after the war was over. This etching has always been amongst the artist’s most sought-after printed works.

On antique laid paper, taken from an old ledger, and with the ink page number at the extreme edge of the sheet. With full (uneven) margins as prepared by the artist. Very fine condition.