Detail view of Lt. Cmdr. McClelland Barclay's dramatic illustration for U.S. Navy recruiting poster during WWII shows idealized navy seamen loading a cannon aboard a ship, courtesy U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command

Fighting War with Art: McClelland Barclay awarded by Art Directors Club of New York in 1944

In the lead up to Remembrance Day, on Nov, 11, 2022, I wanted to tell you a story about how McClelland Barclay, a U.S. Naval Reserve Officer and wartime artist, was recognized by The Art Directors Club of New York in 1944. Fighting both world wars with his art, Barclay was lost at sea a year earlier serving in the South Pacific theatre of WWII.

McClelland Barclay was celebrated posthumously in The Art Directors Club Annual of Advertising Art: National Exhibition of Advertising Art Show at Rockefeller Center on May 15th to June 3rd 1944.

"The Art Directors Club Medal to Lieutenant Commander McClelland Barclay, artist -- in recognition of his long and distinguished record in editorial illustration and advertising art and in honor of his devotion and meritorious service to his country as a commissioned officer of the United States Navy which lists him as missing in action in the South Pacific."

To a Nazi bomber - it's the "kiss of death"

Art Directors Club of New York, 1944 catalogue p. 27 featuring award for McClelland Barclay and his 'war art' illustrated ad for Koppers Company

Along with the award, the page in the Art Directors Club catalogue included one of McClelland Barclay's 'war art' illustrations used in an ad for Koppers Company, a major producer of industrial coke at the time. It shows men in action loading and firing weapons into shafts of light and fire.

Source: Art Directors Annual of Advertising Arts en | January 1, 1944,  p. 31 courtesy International Advertising & Design Database

Ad Credits
Artist: McClelland Barclay
Art Director: Alfred T. Sneden
Client: Koppers Company
Agency: Batten, Barton, Durstein & Osborne, Inc.

In 1943 the U.S. Government asked Koppers to build a factory to make a synthetic form of rubber for the World War II defence effort. The ad reflects the company's war effort

Lasting Legacies

Postcard c. 1930-1945 Koppers and Gulf buildings and Federal Reserve Bank. Pittsburgh, Pa.

Koppers, Inc. as it is now named, has since transformed into a global publicly traded chemical products producer still headquartered in Pittsburg, PA.

The Koppers Building (shown at left) in downtown Pittsburg still stands as an historic Art Deco architectural legacy. It was constructed in 1929 by then majority owner of the company, Andrew Mellon.

Batten, Barton, Durstein & Osborne, Inc. is now known as BBDO, and is one of the world's largest advertising agencies, with its headquarters still in New York City.

The legacy of the artist and Navy serviceman

From WWI to his death in 1943, McClelland Barclay became one of the best known and most successful artists of the Art Deco era. He did editorial illustrations for magazines, and commercial art for ad agencies in Chicago, Detroit and New York. Eventually having his own studio at the top of the Art Deco Heckshire (Crown) Building on 5th Avenue and 57th Street in New York City, where he expanded to metal home decor and costume jewellery products in the 1930s.

McClelland’s legacy of art and service during both war and peacetime seemed to have faded from memory. But it is now brought to life in my new illustrated biography: McClelland Barclay: Painter of Beautiful Women and More.

Chapter Three: The Naval Artist

McClelland Barclay illustrated WWII recruitment poster courtesy U.S. Navy History & Heritage Command

In chapter three of the book, you will see many of his wartime illustrations for the covers of magazines such as "Sea Power", "Wings" and "Liberty", as well as fundraising bonds and military recruiting posters.

His many portraits of Navy sailors and commanders, including General Douglas MacArthur, are now part of the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command art collection in Washington, DC.

This chapter in my book also features Barclay's more human charcoal sketches of war including injured sailors and USO Camp Show entertainers.

Left: WWII Navy recruitment poster image left, courtesy U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command

Lest we forget

Awarded a purple heart posthumously, a memorial plaque for Lt. Cmdr. McClelland Barclay is inscribed along with the names of more than 36,000 memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, Philippines.

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