James McBey (1883 - 1959)

McBey was born in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire, educated at his village school, and at the age of 15 years became a clerk in the North of Scotland Bank in Aberdeen. He attended evening classes at Grays School of Art, drawing scenes in and around Aberdeen. After reading an article on etching in an art magazine, he borrowed from Aberdeen public library Maxime Lalanne’s treatise on etching Traité de la Gravure a l’Eau-Forte he taught himself how to create etchings on zinc plates. He printed the results on paper using his mother’s washing mangle. By 1910 he had enough confidence in his own ability to abandon banking and spent the summer in Holland where he etched 21 plates. His work was of sufficiently high quality to earn him an exhibition in 1911 at the Goupil Gallery in London and his prints were published in both London and Glasgow.