Original WWII Guinness Advertising Oil on Canvas Artwork by John Gilroy - 1944 Royal Navy Submarine Crew

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is a fascinating story! We've all heard of Guinness, a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness (1725–1803) at St. James's Gate, Dublin. Guinness is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. It is brewed in nearly 60 countries and is available in over 120, with annual sales totaling 850 million liters (1.5 billion Imperial or 1.8 billion US pints).

Well, what we have here is an original oil painting by the dedicated Guinness advertising account artist John Gilroy. These painting were first created and once approved internally by the advertising agency and then the client (in this case Guinness) posters would be printed and pasted all over the UK.

This particular example is one of the very few WW2 Guinness advertisements. It reads:



This completely authentic first generation oil painting is beautifully preserved and framed. It even still bears the original paper S.H. Benson advertising agency paper tag that is clearly dated 1944.

The tag reads as follows:


S.H. Benson

-Advertising Agency-

Client: Guinness

Account: GE/44

Artist: GILROY


Guinness's iconic stature is partly due to its advertising, the most notable and recognizable series of advertisements was created by S.H. Benson's advertising, primarily drawn by the artist John Gilroy, in the 1930s and 1940s.

Benson created posters that included phrases such as "Guinness for Strength", "Lovely Day for a Guinness", "Guinness Makes You Strong," "My Goodness My Guinness," (or, alternatively, "My Goodness, My Christmas, It's Guinness!") and, "Guinness is Good For You". The posters featured Gilroy's distinctive artwork and more often than not featured animals such as a kangaroo, ostrich, seal, lion and notably a toucan, which has become as much a symbol of Guinness as the harp.

The genuine one-of-a-kind oil painting measures 34 inches wide by 29 inches tall. The original canvas was mounted on board and one can still see the thumbtack impressions along the margins. The painting is signed GILROY in the bottom left corner.

This particular painting depicts a sailor in the Royal Navy crossing a wooden gangplank from the wharf to a submarine with a massive torpedo slung over his shoulder. Standing beside him on the dockside is an iron stanchion with an empty glass and a bottle of Guinness next to it (as if he has just drunk it, like Popeye eats spinach).

On of the most compelling aspects of this particular work are the copious pencil notes on the canvas, presumably written by the creative account manager at S.H. Benson that read as follows:


Make figures smaller

longer torpedo

longer gang plank

find reference for Conning Tower

Add man in hatch?

A charming advertisement intended to boost morale during WW2, and one of only a very few in Gilroy’s short-lived Guinness WWII series, making it not only one-of-a-kind but extremely rare.

Included with this framed painting comes a signed copy of the 255 page book; GILROY WAS GOOD FOR GUINNESS. The book shows Gilroy’s history with Guinness and illustrates this very painting on page 177.

Gilroy was Great Britain's Norman Rockwell and a treasure trove has been discovered, over the next years the prices will skyrocket and especially on those few that have a piece from the extremely rare WW2 series.

Founded by Arthur Guinness, 1725-1803, this dark nectar was first marketed in 1778. It has climbed in popularity over the next 235 years. In 1932 it moved its headquarters from Dublin to London and was then rated the 7th largest Company in the world. On moving to London Guinness contracted with the S. H. Benson Advertising Agency and for the next thirty years one of the greatest advertising campaigns came into being. Basically this was all because of the renowned commercial artist JOHN GILROY. England's equivalent to Norman Rockwell.

For thirty years Gilroy created some of the most loved Post Advertising of all time. He created the famous Zoo Series including his use of animals, such as Ostriches, Toucans and Gnus, a WW2 Series, an Old Masters series, an Olympic series for 1948 London Games and an Exotic Automobile series as well as countless others.

The point was to promote the benefits that "Guinness was Good For You", and "Guinness For Strength", creating a truly enchanting series of Campaigns that are still near to many people's hearts.

In 1962 a new Marketing team joined Guinness and terminated its contracts with Bensons and within short order the S.H. Benson advertising agency closed down with all it's archives being placed in storage. In 2010 this came to light and over 200 original oil paintings, original works of John Gilroy, were discovered. Any Gilroy work will now become a most rewarding investment. John Gilroy Died in 1985 just a month short of his 87th birthday.


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