Saturday, April 30, 2011

Camouflage Artist | McClelland Barclay

From the McClelland Barclay entry in CAMOUPEDIA: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage, pp. 40-41—

American illustrator McClelland Barclay (1891-July 18, 1943) [see top right photo above] was originally from St. Louis MO. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, then with George Bridgman and Thomas Fogarty at the Art Students League in New York. As early as 1912, his work was often featured in major US magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post and Ladies’ Home Journal.

During World War I, he produced recruiting posters for the US government, and worked with William Andrew MacKay in designing ship camouflage for the US Shipping Board.

In the 1920s and 30s, Barclay was widely known as an advertising illustrator, designing posters for the film industry, painting “pin-up girl” illustrations, and developing marketing images for leading manufacturers, the most popular of which were his paintings of sexy models for General Motors’ Body by Fisher sales campaign.

In 1938, he was appointed an Assistant Naval Constructor with the US Naval Reserve. He again worked on camouflage, and in 1940 he obtained a patent titled “Camouflaging” (US Patent No. 2190691) [top left above] for dazzle-like aircraft camouflage. In that year, an article in the New York Times reported that his patent was “for the camouflaging of airplanes by painting the wings with designs that were said to conceal the shape and make it difficult to judge the position of an airplane.” Some of his designs were applied to prototypes and tested [photos of three prototypes are pictured here], but were never actually implemented. During World War II, Barclay continued to experiment with camouflage and to design recruiting posters. Appointed a Lieutenant Commander, he was a passenger on a US Navy vessel that was struck by a torpedo near the Solomon Islands on July 18, 1943.

Also pictured above (in the bottom photo) is an earlier example of dazzle-like airplane camouflage (unrelated to Barclay's work), as published in the New York Herald in 1919, in which it was described as "an upside down flyer" and "a weirdly camouflaged airplane that was a feature in the recent aerial pageant at Hendon, England. Note the dummy landing carriage atop the upper plane and silhouetted pilot's head beneath the fuselage designed to puzzle the spectators as to whether or not the plane is flying rightside up."

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