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McBey went to Venice in 1925, already steeped in the etched work of Whistler, as were so many of McBey's generation. Comparisons with Whistler's justly famous Venetian set of the 1880s were unavoidable.
"Every morning during a month which I spent in McBey's company [in Venice] in the autumn of 1925, he was out at five o'clock to see whether the sun was rising in mist, or in a sky of blue. Never have I known anyone with such untiring energy and passion for work. He began at dawn."
-Martin Hardie, 1937