back to works by this artist go to previous work   go to next work

James McBey

1883 - 1959

The Moonlight Attack, Jelil by James McBey

The Moonlight Attack, Jelil   1920

  Original etching.
Signed and numbered in ink.
Ref: Hardie 200
S 304 x 463 mm; P & I 225 x 391 mm
Outstanding impression, printed with considerable plate tone on pale blue-green paper to enhance the atmospheric effect of moonlight. From the only edition of 76 signed proofs.

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 Camel Corps and the troops throughout the desert war, witnessing the liberation of Jerusalem, Damascus and, in this image, the attack on Jelil.

This etching shows the Highland troops of the 7th Division concealed among the withered barley in No-man's-Land, close to the wired Turkish redoubts on the ridge ahead. They lie tense, in the stillness of the moonlight, awaiting the surprise bombardment of the nearby city of Jelil before dawn on the morning of September 19th, 1918. James McBey’s images of this nature are, without doubt, the most memorable graphic record of Britain’s involvement in desert warfare.

This plate, like all of James McBey’s desert war subjects, was not worked up and completed until some years after the First World War was over. Published in his ‘Second Palestine Set’, The Moonlight Attack, Jelil stands amongst the most atmospheric of James McBey’s wartime etchings.

On special blue-green toned laid paper with full margins. Unidentified Scottish collector’s stamp “HW” at extreme lower right corner of sheet. Very good original condition.