So how was your date last night? A romantic night out with the desire of your heart? A table for two in a candlelit restaurant? A glass of Champagne to start? White with the fish? Red with the main? Dessert wine and port to follow? Maybe even a whisky to finish off your night? At the 1862 International Exhibition all of these drinks were on show. But their combination did not make for a romantic evening of wining and dining – quite the opposite. The designer William Burges symbolically depicted them all embroiled in fierce battle!
Burges displayed a sideboard, designed for the storage of alcohol, at the 1862 International Exhibition. Playful with his decorative motifs, he depicted an imaginary battle between wines and beers: continental wines represented by Sir Bacchus, and British Beers by Sir John Barleycorn. The female warriors in the scene personified Pale Ale, Scotch Ale, Hock and Champagne.
Bought by the South Kensington museum for £40 in 1862, this lighthearted drinks cabinet speaks of the fun that alcohol is often associated with. But please – remember to drink sensibly. We don’t want any more fights. Thank you.
© Helen Cresswell and Ruth Mason, 2014