Local Inspiration

I would like to kick off our Art on the Web Posts with an appreciation of a renowned and well loved local artist – no, not Barrie!

James McBey was born in Newburgh (some say Foveran, some Aberdeen), in 1883. Initially self taught, learning to etch from a book, he later attended classes at Gray’s School of Art. At the age of 27 he abandoned his job as a bank clerk to concentrate on his art. He travelled in Europe, America and North Africa, began painting in watercolour, and in just one year had his first exhibition at a London Gallery. During the First World War he was appointed an official war artist and produced hundreds of oil and watercolour paintings and sketches in France, Egypt and Palestine. Marrying his American fiance, Marguerite Loeb, in 1931, they settled in Morocco, where he died in 1959.

His work is displayed in galleries in the UK and America and Aberdeen Art Gallery has a fine collection, much of it donated by his widow. Coincidentally, three years ago today, it was announced that the Marguerite McBey Trust had gifted a quarter of a million pounds to the redevelopment of the art gallery.