Grapefruit Moon Gallery is delighted to offer “What Do You Charge For Board, Sir?” a rare surviving archived Cream of Wheat original oil painting. This 1919 artwork was reproduced as a full page advertisement in hundreds of American magazines. Featuring the iconic chef “Rastus” greeting a child on hobby horse at the Cream of Wheat Inn. The “Inn” was actually Brewer’s St Paul MN studio on his Mississippi River bluff estate. Brewer purchased the former Lake Street bridge keepers house to use as a studio. The Lake Street Bridge is one of the iconic Minnesota landmarks which runs over the mighty Mississippi that divides Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Each original piece of artwork used in Cream of Wheat advertising was carefully stored and archived at the Cream of Wheat headquarters in northeast Minneapolis. The unusual care taken to protect this thorough, well-maintained archive is testament to the foresight of Emery Mapes, who presided over the Cream of Wheat advertising campaign. Most advertising illustration in the early 20th century was considered expendable, and was quickly destroyed, lost or thrown away. Mapes insisted upon treating the art as art, and employed the finest illustration artists to help develop Cream of Wheat’s folksy nostalgic iconography. Counted among the artists Mapes recruited are N.C. Wyeth, Jessie Willcox Smith, Phillip Goodwin, J.C. Leyendecker, James Montgomery Flagg and Edward V. Brewer. With the help of this stable of talent, the Cream of Wheat advertising campaign came to define some of the most enduring visions of American hearth and home.