Los Angeles

“Etchings by James McBey”

University Of California At Santa Barbara

The UCSB gallery is currently showing half of a group of 25 black ink etchings by Scottish artist James McBey. These works are a gift to the University by the artist’s widow, acting upon a suggestion by Miss Margaret Mallory and Mrs. Ala Story of Santa Barbara. Born in Scotland in 1883, McBey had become, by the start of World War I, one of England’s top graphic artists. He was well-known as a portraitist and artist-reporter with Allenby in the desert fighting.

All the work in the Santa Barbara group which contains landscapes, architectural studies and war scenes are technically excellent, sensitively delineated in the good British tradition, sometimes edging closer than one would like to a facile illustrative technique. One of his great fortes was a masterful adjustment of line weight to achieve precise spatial recession without need of dramatic perspective. Most impressive print of the group is a beautifully drawn war scene, Moonlight Attack. It seems a good thing to expose students to the delineator’s tradition, which should be carried on. More important than this, however, is the impetus that a gift of this kind gives to the growth of the campus gallery-museum concept.

James McMenamin