McClelland Barclay (1891–1942) 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 (artist). 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.
During the 1920s and 1930’s, McClelland Barclay’s images were
selected for use by art directors for the nation’s most popular
periodicals including Colliers, Country Gentleman, Redbook,
Pictorial Review, Coronet, Country Life, Saturday Evening Post, The
Ladies’ Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, and a host of movie magazines.
He began painting movie poster art for Hollywood studios during the
1930s as well, and was considered a superstar in the film industry.
In 1930, the General Motors
selected McClelland Barclay’s ‘Fisher Body Girl’ for a series of
advertisements, and she quickly became as popular as ‘The Gibson
Girl’ and ‘The Christy Girl’. He used his wife, just 19 years old,
as the model for the iconic Fisher Autobody image. She later
appeared in magazine advertisements and was so well published with
her languid body plastered across the country on billboards, that
she was recognized wherever she went. He also illustrated
advertisements for the A & P, Eaton Paper Company, Elgin Watches,
Humming Bird Hosiery, and Lever Brothers, amongst others. His
fashionable women for General Motors' "Body by Fisher" advertising
campaign made his work recognizable to virtually every magazine
reader in the United States. He also illustrated advertisements for
Whitman's Chocolates, Texaco, and Camel and Chesterfield brand
Barclay did not limit himself to
painting. In the late 1930s, Barclay set up a small company to
reproduce jewelry and fabricate utilitarian figures for ashtrays,
bookends, desk sets, lamps, and other articles for home and office
use. These products were fabricated out of cast grey metal with a
thick bronze plate finish and they retailed for just a few dollars.
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.
Appointed a Lt. Commander, Barclay worked on further camouflage
assignments until 1942, when he was reported missing after the LST
he was aboard was torpedoed in the Solomon Islands.