John Gilroy (artist)

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John T. Y. Gilroy
John Gilroy.jpg
Born(1898-05-30)30 May 1898
Died11 April 1985(1985-04-11) (aged 86)
EducationDurham University

John Thomas Young Gilroy (30 May 1898 – 11 April 1985) was an English artist and illustrator, best known for his advertising posters for Guinness, the Irish stout. He signed many of his works, simply, "Gilroy".


Born in Whitley Bay, Northumberland, England, Gilroy attended Durham University until his studies were interrupted by World War I, during which he served with the Royal Field Artillery. He resumed studying at the Royal College of Art in London, where he remained as a teacher. He taught at Camberwell College of Arts.[1]

In 1925, he gained employment at S.H. Benson's advertising agency, where he created the iconic advertisement art for Guinness featuring the Zoo Keeper and animals enjoying Guinness.[2] He worked with Dorothy L. Sayers.[3] He created cover designs for the Radio Times, most famously, in 1936, one depicting a laughing cat.[4][5] He was also an accomplished portrait painter, numbering royalty, politicians, actors and many others amongst his sitters. He worked in his large studio at 10 Holland Park, London, the former home and studio of Sir Bernard Partridge. He was a long-standing and much loved member of the Garrick Club, where he was created a Life Member and Chairman of the Works of Art Committee 1970-1975. He was awarded and Honorary MA by Newcastle University in 1975, and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1981

Wartime poster by John Gilroy for the Ministry of Information

John Gilroy died at Guildford on 11 April 1985.


He married twice. First, in 1924, to Gwendoline Short, an artist like himself. They had one son - John Morritt in 1927. His second marriage, in 1950, was to Elizabeth Margaret Outram Bramley who already had a daughter (Jenefer) and a son (Robin).


  1. ^ Elizabeth Lomas (1 January 2001). Guide to the Archive of Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. pp. 54–. ISBN 978-1-57958-315-6.
  2. ^ Stephen Mansfield (13 October 2009). The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World. Thomas Nelson Inc. pp. 230–. ISBN 978-1-4185-8067-4.
  3. ^ DuBose, Martha Hailey (2000). Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. Macmillan. p. 186. ISBN 9780312276553.
  4. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - The Art of Radio Times". BBC Online. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  5. ^ "Cheers! How John Gilroy's revolutionary drinks ads changed advertising - BBC Arts". BBC. Retrieved 27 December 2018.

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