More than 30 posters from the extraordinary Shell Advertising Art Collection are to go on public display from tomorrow (Friday).

The first Shell advertising poster was produced in 1920 and their use on fuel delivery trucks meant they soon became known as Lorry Bills – the perfect response to increasing public complaints about roadside hoardings appearing in the countryside. The artform peaked in the 1930s when the number of private vehicles on Britain’s roads surpassed one million for the first time.

The Shell Advertising Art Collection of more than 7,000 printed posters and original artworks reflects the charm and character of a nostalgic age of motoring.

One of the historic campaign themes will go on display in the Squash Court Gallery of the National Trust’s Upton House and Gardens on the Oxfordshire-Warwickshire border.

Featuring a wide range of artistic styles, from traditional to modernist, the works employed artists with established reputations, while also promoting new talent such as Graham Sutherland and Ben Nicholson.

It is the first time this set of design treasures has been exhibited in the former country home of Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, who was chairman of Shell for 25 years and son of the company’s founder, Marcus Samuel.

This 2014 season collection shows how Shell ad campaigns took on a fresh direction under new advertising manager, Jack Beddington. He used subtle themes and catchy slogans to promote not just the product, but the joys and exhilaration of motoring, the hidden treasures of the British countryside and the extraordinary range of people who relied on Shell.

Upton’s exhibition is centred on a campaign called These People Prefer Shell, which was designed to illustrate the range of people who chose its fuel, from theatre-goers to gardeners.

Slogans included “Judges prefer Shell”; “Doctors prefer Shell” and so did actors and even footballers, who at the time were on £8 a week with £2 for a win.

Upton’s assistant collections and engagement manager, Michelle Leake, says: “The lorry bills acted as a travelling picture gallery, taking art out onto British roads for everyone to appreciate.”

This year, new rooms and displays in the house are set to give visitors a fresh look at the family’s life at Upton House during the property’s heyday in the 1930s.

The Bearsted family shared a love of country pursuits and long weekends in the country and visitors can learn how they spent their fortune enjoying the proverbial millionaire’s lifestyle.

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