McBey, James (1883-1959) by Scholes, Robert

James McBey (1883 – 1959) He was born at Newburgh in Aberdeenshire and worked at a bank in Aberdeen until 1910. With no formal instruction, he learned etching and made a printing press for himself at the age of 17. Upon leaving the bank, he went to London and showed his work there in 1911, to considerable acclaim. During the War he was an official artist with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, travelling through Palestine and Syria as the British forces advanced. In later life he concentrated more on portraits, some of his best-known subjects being associated with the Arab world – T E Lawrence, King Feisal and General Allenby. He travelled widely after the war, eventually settling in the U. S. A. and becoming a citizen around 1940. Later he moved to Tangier. In 1918 Ezra Pound, writing as B. H. Dias, said of him “James McBey has something to him” . Indeed he did. (NA 24.3:45)

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