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James McBey

1883 - 1959

The Seine at Rouen by James McBey

The Seine at Rouen   1916

  Original etching.
Signed and numbered in ink.
Ref: Hardie 173
S 190 x 259 mm; P & I 153 x 224 mm
Very good, strong impression of this vivacious and roughly bitten plate; from the only edition of 76 signed proofs.

Like almost all of the plates made by James McBey in 1916, before he was appointed an official war artist, The Seine at Rouen was based on thumb-notes, and on tiny sketches made in the palm of the artist's hand or on the inside of his pocket, as sketching was against wartime regulations and in many instances could be considered spying. Although quite far inland from the Atlantic port of Le Havre, Rouen had a busy commercial river port leading to both the ocean and to the French capital, Paris. Moored boats and a suggestion of the distant port areas can be seen either side of the central clumps of trees in McBey's etching. To the right of the image are poplar trees on the Ile des Cerises and, in the distance, Rouen's old suspension bridge.

Working in makeshift conditions whilst serving with the military, James McBey appears to have had some difficulties with foul biting whilst etching this plate. In its earliest state the plate was affected by foul biting across the entire surface and required considerable burnishing and 'cleaning' in subsequent states. Even in this published state, areas of foul bite are still apparent, giving the etching a sketchy, vivacious appearance.

On cream laid paper with full margins, as issued. Very good original condition.