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James McBey

1883 - 1959

Dawn, the Camel Patrol Setting Out by James McBey

Dawn, the Camel Patrol Setting Out   1919

  Original etching.
Signed and numbered in ink.
Hardie 181
S 257 x 412 mm; P & I 225 by 380 mm
Brilliant signed proof impression of this magnificent etched work with the warm brown surface ink wiped to dramatic effect. A truly outstanding example from the only edition of 70 signed and numbered proofs (76 in all).

James McBey’s masterpiece.

Dawn, the Camel Patrol Setting Out is considered to be one of the greatest works of the entire British Etching Revival. Immediately upon their release, James McBey’s desert war etchings were perceived to be the greatest of all of his works, and the entire edition was sold out at once. In 1928 a single impression of Dawn, the Camel Patrol Setting Out realised £445 at auction, the highest price ever attained for a living etcher’s work in this country. The following year, another impression of this same iconic work set yet another record, selling for £530. With this etching, James McBey reached the zenith of the market which he had dominated for the past decade and secured his enduring fame.

This inspired etching depicts the start of James McBey’s journey with the Australian Camel Patrol, in the capacity of Official War Artist, across the desert from the Suez Canal towards Beersheba. The patrol is seen setting out at dawn into the desert of Sinai east of Serapeum, one of the armed posts on the Suez Canal. In the distance, the figures of the two guides leading the patrol are seen silhouetted against the glowing splendour of the rising sun. Dawn, the Camel Patrol Setting Out is a truly dramatic image in which the artist has achieved an almost tangible effect of shimmering heat and the realisation of infinite space as the sands stretch away into the distance. This remarkable etching remains James McBey’s most famous work.

On antique laid paper, watermarked J. Budgen 1800, with full margins as issued. Excellent condition.