Title: France at her Furnaces
Size: 22.4cm x 37.8cm
Medium: Dry-point etching. Signed in ink & editioned "I" (British edition).

Additional Information
Framed in 1" limed oak with an ivory mount. Edition of 76 proofs. Martin Hardie Catalogue No. 175. 1917 One of his most famous war-time etchings, crafted in 1917 when he was stationed at Boulogne and features workers at the Schneider munitions factory at Hornfleur. Soon after this was executed McBey left for Cairo with the British Expeditionary Force as a war artist. Salaman: "A spell of service at Rouen was signalised by a couple of etchings, of which Rouen was memorable for its design, and one magnificent dry-point, France at her Furnaces, a dynamic impression of the Schneider Munition Works at Harfleur. Two partially stripped men are drawing with long steel hooks the shell casings from the blazing furnaces, while others, in the tremendous scorching glare, drag them at white heat towards the hydraulic presses. It is a scene of immense energy, of stern contests between nature's forces and man's controlling power, and for the spontaneity of vital impression, and sudden contrasts of light and dark, the artist worked his dry-point like a wizard."


About the Artist

James 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, McBey 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.