Kerr Eby


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Printmaker. Known particularly for etchings of New England, he numbered among few artists to produce eyewitness scenes of the world wars. Born in Tokyo, the son of Canadian missionaries, Harold Kerr Eby returned to Canada as a child. Upon moving to New York in 1907, he trained at the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League. From 1913 until he entered the U.S. Army during World War I, he worked in Cos Cob, Connecticut, while afterward he resided in Westport. In 1943 and 1944, he served as an artist-war correspondent in the Pacific. Although more explicitly detailed, Eby's prints, which include lithographs in addition to his more numerous intaglios, reflect the lingering influence of James Abbott McNeill Whistler's example in their simple compositions, empty spaces, and quiet mood. Exemplifying Eby's debt, the etching and aquatint of a ship in harbor by moonlight, Night Loading (1930), achieves its effect through moody tone, inexplicit subject matter, and a broad expanse of still water across an empty foreground. Even many of Eby's war scenes display aesthetic detachment. Also combining etching and aquatint, September 13, 1918—St. Mihiel (1934) portrays an army on the move, seen from a distance before a sky that dwarfs human significance. Although some records, such as the drawing D-Day, Tarawa (1944), get close to military action, their horrors are offset by refined composition and delicate draftsmanship. Felled by a tropical disease contracted in the South Pacific, he died in a Norwalk hospital, not far from Westport. Eby's antiwar War, an illustrated response to his military experiences, appeared in 1936.

Subjects: Art.

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