Dutch Boy Paints: The Dutch Boy

Retro Staff 23 Comments

Dutch Boy signThe National Lead Company was formed when several producers of white lead joined together and incorporated in the late 19th century.  This new company wanted to sell their white-lead paints under one trademark, and needed a brand name and an advertising icon to do so.  In 1907, a little Dutch Boy was chosen to represent the company. 

The Dutch Boy name was picked because the National Lead Company produced their fine quality paints using the “Dutch Process.”  This method of creating paint originated in Holland in the 16th century, and produced a very high-quality paint.

Artist Rudolf Yook, an artist of Dutch descent, drew up the image for the Dutch Boy.  The company commissioned Lawrence C. Earle to do an oil painting of their new advertising icon, which would become their trademark.  The boy was to be wearing overalls, Dutch wooden clogs, and carrying a paintbrush and bucket.  Earle used an Irish-American boy who lived in his New Jersey neighborhood as the model for the Dutch Boy.  Interestingly, this nine-year old little boy grew up to be Michael E. Brady, a well-known political cartoon artist, who worked for the Brooklyn Eagle.

The painting of the Dutch Boy became very famous, and symbolized the fine quality of Dutch Boy paints.  Over the years, several different images of the little Dutch boy were used to promote the Dutch Boy label paints.  All of the images featured a similar version of the Dutch Boy, wearing overalls, a hat, and clogs.  A few years ago, the company chose to return to the original Dutch Boy for their advertising campaigns.

Over 100 years old now, The Dutch Boy is one of the most recognizable advertising icons in the world.  The trademark is still associated with a high-quality paint, although it is no longer made with lead.  Overall, the Dutch Boy advertising campaign has one of the most successful marketing trademarks in the world.

Last updated: Apr 01, 2009
Filed under: Retro Characters Tagged with: advertising, retro brands, Retro Characters