Biography of McClelland Barclay (1891 – 1942)
McClelland Barclay was an American painter of pin-up art. Born in St. Louis in 1891, Barclay studied first at the Art Institute of Chicago, then later at the Art Students League in New York City, where he studied under George Bridgman and Thomas Fogarty. By the age of 21, Barclay's work had been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan.
During World War I he was awarded a prize by the Committee on National Preparedness in 1917 for his poster "Fill the Breach." The next year, he designed naval camouflage under the direction of William MacKay, Chief of the New York District Emergency Fleet Corporation.
By 1925, Barclay was painting covers for many national magazines. He also painted cover portraits of movie stars for many film magazines in the 1920s and 1930s. He began painting movie poster art for Hollywood studios during the 1930s as well, and was considered a superstar in the film industry.
His images also helped sell products. His fashionable women for General Motors' "Body by Fisher" advertising campaign made his work recognizable to virtually every magazine reader in America. He also illustrated advertisements for Whitman's Chocolates, Texaco Oil, Camel and Chesterfield cigarettes.
Barclay did not limit himself to painting. From the time he married in 1930, he produced numerous sculptures, which were manufactured out of metal in a range of objects, such as bowls, boxes, pins, and wall hangings by the McClelland Barclay Art Company.
In June 1938, he was appointed Assistant Naval Constructor with the US Naval Reserve. In mid-1940, Barclay prepared experimental camouflage designs for Navy combat aircraft, but evaluation tests revealed that pattern camouflage was of little use for aircraft. Within weeks of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Barclay completed the first of many recruiting posters for the Navy.
Navy Relief show poster by McClelland Barclay (1943).Appointed a Lt. Commander, Barclay worked on further camouflage assignments until 1942, when he was reported missing after the L.S.T. he was aboard was torpedoed in the Solomon Islands.
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