After a very successful run as an artist prior to his enlistment in the navy during World War II, Barclay lost his life at the age of 51 aboard a landing craft torpedoed by a Japanese vessel in the Pacific theatre. The United States most certainly lost a brave and talented serviceman at that time, but his name and his art live on as collectors continue to pay tribute to this great man.
Barclay’s Famous Illustrations
Many collectors of militaria know Barclay for his work illustrating World War II notables like Generals Eisenhower and McArthur. The stories of how he dressed fellow servicemen in garb to emulate these famous men so he could paint them are quite entertaining. They also seek the posters he illustrated supporting recruitment slogans, anti-propaganda messages and other World War II-related imagery.
Other folks recognize magazine covers by Barclay that appeared on many periodicals in the 1930s and early ‘40s including The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and Pictorial Review. These often feature pretty women in poses popular during that era, as do the advertising calendars he’s know for like the one illustrating this article.
Barclay also did some very famous illustrations for Ford Motor Company’s “Body by Fischer” campaign. An original 1920s oil painting of these renderings can be worth thousands today when offered to an avid collector of Barclay’s work.
Those wanting a Barclay illustration from the Ford campaign at a more affordable price can often locate magazine advertisements torn from periodicals and sold individually. For $25 or less you can buy an ad originally featured in Country Gentleman in 1928 depicting a stylish couple along with the Fisher logo.
For this superb work, Barclay was awarded the Art Directors Club Medal posthumously in 1944 “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.”
Other Wares Designed by Barclay
What many people don’t realize about this notable artist is that he designed many other items that were distributed by the McClelland Barclay Art Company in the 1930s. These utilitarian and decorative household objects were manufactured of metal and included bowls, boxes, trays, bookends, desk accessories and wall hangings.
Through these cast pieces, Barclay exhibited his talent as a sculptor. While some of the simpler items like leaf shaped bowls and flower shaped pin dishes can still be found for reasonable prices, his more elaborate designs, especially those featuring animal sculptures, usually bring $200 and up (see More Images above for examples).
Another lesser-known product of Barclay’s design skill is the jewelry bearing his name. Most of the rhinestone costume jewelry he produced was made during the 1930s with a very distinctive Art Deco look. He also produced intricately designed sterling silver jewelry in the early 1940s, which can be even harder to locate than the rhinestone pieces.
Today collectors seek both types of jewelry, but usually prefer one over the other. Rhinestone pins can be purchased in the $75-$150 range while necklaces and bracelets usually sell for more than $150 apiece. Sterling jewelry items with the McClelland Barclay mark usually sell for $150-300 each, or more, when they come up for sale.