The First Sight of Jerusalem, Nebi Samwil (No. 2). 1920. Etching. Hardie 197. 10 7/8 x 17 15/16 (sheet 13 5/8 x 20 1/4). Edition 76, #31. Series: Second Palestine Set. Printed with plate tone on antique wovepaper with full margins. Signed and numbered in ink and titled 'The First Sight of Jerusalem' in pencil. $1,200.
This is one of James McBey's largest etched plates. Hardie/Carter write, "At dawn on November 22nd, 1917, British troops who had sheltered for the night in an old turkish trench on the ridge of Nebi Samwil obtain the first sight of Jerusalem, whose domes and minarets are seen faintly along the distant sky-line. Further off, in the centre, is the Mount of Olives. The smoke of an exploded shrapnel-shell hangs dark in the air, and another shell has burst down the ridge to the right."
Dated in the plate 22 November 1917, James McBey sketched this image just prior to the liberation of Jerusalem on 9th December. This plate, like all of J.McBey’s desert subjects, was not worked up and completed until some years after the war was over. McBey had attempted a different version of this subject, seen from another angle, in his plate The First Sight of Jerusalem. Nebi Samwil (No.1) but, dissatisfied with the result, he abandoned the first plate after printing only seven trial proofs.
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