Summertime by the sea captured in the art of McClelland Barclay

Summertime by the sea captured in the art of McClelland Barclay

Being by sea in summertime inspired many works by Art Deco artist McClelland Barclay.

From shore to surf, a fondness for summer at the sea was apparent as subjects in his paintings, commercial art, as well as his nautical home decor pieces. He also included marine creature motifs in some of his costume jewellery designs.

You can see many of his works, and learn more about his personal interest in my illustrated biography: McClelland Barclay: Painter of Beautiful Women and More.

 Capturing movement wind, water, sun and sand...and women

As I wrote about his early love of the sea, Barclay's fascination lasted a lifetime which can be traced through his art. Many of his magazine covers in the 1930s feature summertime activities at the beach, on the water, or poolside.

One can see his skill at capturing movement of the wind and waves along with those of the beautiful women subjects in his cover art for magazines including Country Gentleman, Pictorial Review and the Saturday Evening Post.

McClelland Barclay illustrated double page ad for Jantzen swimwear appeared in the Saturday Evening Post June 25, 1927

Likewise, his commercial work for companies including Atlantic Gasoline, Fisher Bodies, Jantzen and Texaco, Barclay painted beautiful women in active pursuits like swimming, diving, water skiing and sailing, or just lounging at the beach.

His last love, Mardee Hoff, was the model for the sunny seaside beach scene with purple parasol (shown above). "McClelland Barclay's Glamorous Girls" cover illustration was published in July 1934 in the New York Journal's Saturday Magazine insert.

By then, the artist was quite well known and sought after not only for his paintings, but also for his aesthetic opinions. The text attributed to Mac read:

A PLACE IN THE SUN - And what has a more fitting place in the sun than a pretty girl, so that sun may throw highlights on her hair and cast little light shadows of her graceful lines and features? The Parasol is more symbolic than practical, holdover of the mincing age when girls were in horror lest their pale, wan skins might be clouded with a sturdy touch of natural tan, or --fate forbid! -- a freckle! Our modern girls brave the sun and breast the waves. And to me they are never more glamorous than when they blend with nature, on the sands, by the sea--- IN THE SUN! - Mc.B.

East Hampton artist's studio & Guild Hall exhibit

Swimming in the ocean and sailing were among the activities the artist enjoyed all his life too. His success as a commercial illustrator in the 1920s allowed McClelland to own a studio in East Hampton on Long Island, which he shared with Mardee.

Original oil painting of rough seaside by artist McClelland Barclay from the 1930s

Original oil painting of a rough sea by McClelland Barclay, 1930s
The Hamptons were then a popular place for artists to spend their summers. In September 1937, an article in the East Hampton Star described a solo exhibit of paintings, portraits and sculpture by McClelland Barclay at the famed Guild Hall in East Hampton.
East Hampton Star September 2, 1937 "McClelland Barclay has Portrait Showing Here"
From his earliest youth his ambition has been to be a marine painter and after many years of creating beautiful women for magazines he has found opportunity to return to his first love, the sea. However, he chooses the sea in the turbulent and active moods and paints it with the appreciation of one who enjoys the feel of its power swimming in the heavy surf. His seascapes are painted at Monhegan, Me., and on the beach at East Hampton. - "McClelland Barclay has Portrait Showing Here", East Hampton Star, September 2, 1937

Art Deco objects and jewelry inspired by the sea

You can also see the influence of the sea in his Art Deco metal decor works. Small desk accessories, figurines and wall art were made between 1930-1938 by his company, McClelland Barclay Art Products, Inc. Bronze plated metal works were finished in various colours, including his own signature, "McClelland Barclay green".

Here, his original sketch and the bronze-plated pelican figurine, sailboat letter opener and other nautical-inspired objects are available in the decor shop. Find this delightful and rarely seen sterling silver angel fish brooch made in the late 1930s by the Rice-Weiner Company of Providence, RI.

McClelland Barclay original pelican sketch and bronze-plated statuette from the 1930s
McClelland Barclay bronze-plated pelican statuette
McClelland Barclay bronze-plated sailboat letter opener
McClelland Barclay sterling silver angel fish brooch

Dive in!

With the arrival of summer heat, it's time to seek out the cooling breezes and refreshing plunges. Whether it be a pool, lake or the sea...or my personal preference...a hammock with a good book...time to dive in to summer!

McClelland Barclay woman diving illustration for Atlantic gasoline billboard 1920s
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