Archibald Motley, Cocktails, about 1926

A painting of a group of five women laughing and drinking around a table while a butler moves in the background

The John Axelrod Collection—Frank B. Bemis Fund, Charles H. Bayley Fund, and The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection. © Valerie Gerrard Browne.

Archibald Motley’s Cocktails evokes the sophistication of Black culture and glamour of Black women in the US at the beginning of the 20th century. By showing a group of well-dressed women enjoying alcoholic drinks—illegal during Prohibition—in an elegant room, Motley opposes previous assumptions of Black culture being a monolith and flips preconceived stereotypes on their head.