The Black Velvet cocktail was created in response to the death of Prince Albert in December 1861.


The first colour photograph was taken in 1861, by James Clark Maxwell. The image was of a tartan ribbon, the colour is still slightly faded. Although images were still in black and white as colour was still being experimented with. The types of cameras there were being used were Daguerreotype cameras and wet plate negatives.


In the 1860s the realism movements had been going strong for over a decade. The Romanticism era had just ended and in a few years time Impressionism would start.

Romanticism relates to art work that focuses on imagination and emotion. There is no one signifier of Romantic art as it ranged from smooth brush strokes to high detailed canvas work. Some of the famous romanticism era was Henry Fuseli, JMW Turner Frederic Edwin Church.

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) was a Swiss born painter, his work ‘The Nightmare’ gave him his name, although the subject of the painting isn’t truly known what many people agree is that is suppose to intrigue us. His work is smooth, almost like you are looking through something soft focus – there are no harsh lines. The colours are fairly muted and usually have a dark background.

JMW Turner (1775-1851) is probably best known for his work with colours in his landscape and seascape paintings. Typically using water colours, oils and engravings. His work too had a softer focus but was very light. I feel like this wouldn’t relate as much to the photograph of the black velvet as I know the photograph is going to be very dark as the drink is black and so will the background.

Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) was an American landscape painter. A lot of his work features beautiful skies and idyllic scenes. Similarly to Turner, it is hard to relate to my project as I know the colour palette will be so different.

Today, romanticism in photography can relate to a photograph with a soft focus – this is something I would like to try out for this particular photograph. This relates back to Fuseli’s work and also the emotion from Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert.

The following defined era of art was realism. This was the movement the painted people so life like it could have been a photograph, it also referred to painting people in a natural way. It moved away from visualising the intangible and instead was a direct observation of the world around. Two of the influencers of the genre were Jean-Francois Millet and Honore Daumier.

Jean-Francios Millet (1814-1875) a lot of his work had the theme of hardship, which is what he went through for a lot of his life. He focused on the ‘peasant’ or farmers of the time. Often these were portraits with darker tones – to show off the hardship. The time that I want to display is in a way a heavy subject of death. I am thinking to keep the tones a bit darker than the other drinks.

Honore Daumier (1808-1879) starting out a a caricaturist focusing on politics and society of his day. He too focused on the poor and his work showed them in a sympathetic light. His work was very political. He used many different mediums – lithographs, paintings and sculptures. His work too was very dark, again to mirror this heavy subject. I will try to take inspiration from this but I know the image itself


For women dresses had tight corset-like bodices, high neck lines and buttoned fronts. Skirts were full length and bell shaped. Evening wear accessories would include floral wreaths, ostrich feathers, pomegranate flowers and butterflies. Whereas the men single breasted and semi fitted coats and jackets were in. vogue. Alongside collarless, single-breasted waistcoats, and cravats and neckties were worn.


I called the Brooks club (where the Black Velvet was created) to see what information they could give me. Unfortunately there wasn’t much. The uniform staff wore was blue and khaki green.

In general bars were getting more equipment during what David Wondrich referred to as the Baroque age (1830-1885) of bars became more created with cocktails which needed more equipment such as a shaker and stirring spoon. At the time bars would provide more the food – lodging and food and would be open to anyone. During the mid 1800s this began to change with saloons, which served mixed drinks and spirits. Usually women weren’t allowed.



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