The lost Guinness art: a talk at St Bride

Former Guinness brewer and author David Hughes is giving a talk at St Bride Library in London next month on the recently re-discovered ‘lost’ Guinness artwork painted by John Gilroy.

Former Guinness brewer and author David Hughes is giving a talk at St Bride Library in London next month on the recently re-discovered ‘lost’ Guinness artwork painted by John Gilroy.

Between 1930 and 1962, Gilroy worked with ad agency S H Benson, producing hundreds of illustrations for some of Guinness’ most iconic campaigns. Many featured animals – lions, ostrich, octopus and rhinos as well as the famous toucan – while others referenced artistic and cultural figures. In 1936, he produced illustrations featuring Nazi imagery for a German distributor, but the posters were never used:

The oil-on-canvas paintings were stored in the S H Benson archive but when the agency closed in 1971, they were lost. Many were bought by a private collector and others were donated to the British Museum and the V&A.

Around 40 years later, Gilroy’s art resurfaced in the US antiques market and since then, around 320 oil paintings have been found. 250 of them are showcased in Gilroy was Good for Guinness – Hughes’ third book on the stout brand’s history.

Most of the artwork featured in the book had not previously been published and many of the illustrations are from rejected campaigns. Hughes will be discussing Gilroy’s work and methods at his talk on St Bride on Tuesday March 4.

The talk will take place at 7.00pm in the Bridewell Hall, St Bride Foundation, Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8EE.

Tickets cost £15 or £12.50 for Friends of St Bride and concessions are available for students.

For details and to book a place, see stbride.org

Images above (excluding German print) taken from a set of 22 done in 1952 and never used commercially. Titled The Art of Guinness and Old Masters, they were later re-worked by Gilroy to become adverts for Guinness.

All images © David Hughes

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