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James McBey

1883 - 1959

Boys Fishing by James McBey

Boys Fishing   1902

  Original etching.
Signed and numbered in ink.
Ref: Hardie 2
S 202 x 153 mm; P & I 164 x 121 mm
Very good impression of this rare early plate. From the only edition of 27 signed and numbered proofs - only a very few of these proofs can be located today.

An exceptionally early and rare work by James McBey, Boys Fishing is most iconic of the artist's first printed works and was used as the front cover illustration to James McBey's own autobiography The Early Life of James McBey (Oxford University Press, 1977). Created when McBey was working as an apprentice at the North Scotland Bank in Aberdeen and printed using a clothes mangle as a printing press, this wonderfully observed view of local Aberdeen life was considered by Martin Hardie to be of "a standard that was not touched again for some considerable time...not till the Dean Bridge, with its note of drama, is there another outstanding plate." (Etchings and Dry Points from 1902 to 1924 by James McBey , P.& D. Colnaghi & Co., 1925, page x).

After attempting his first etched plate, the young James McBey recorded "I purchased two more copper plates. On one I drew a quick impression of three boys looking over the edge of a quay at their fishing line, on the other a portrait of my grandmother. Attaching no value to these prints, I gave several to co-tenants who flattered me by asking for copies." (The Early Life..., p.44). Boys Fishing soon became the most sought-after of McBey's rare early works.

On fine antique laid paper taken from an old book or ledger, with full margins and deckle edge. Very fine original condition.