E. W. Clay's Life in Philadelphia Series

E. W. Clay began drawing this very popular series of cartoons in 1828, after he had seen George and Robert Cruikshank's Life in London drawings while on a trip to England. Their work featured the adventures of three uninhibited young men on the town; Clay's focused on social pretensions. Between 1828 and 1830 he produced 14 aquatint engravings for the series: 4 depicted whites; 10, including the seven available here, were caricatures of Philadelphia's free black population. The drawings were extremely popular; they were reproduced in a number of media, in more and less expensive forms, and were widely imitated by cartoonists in other cities, including New York and London. The comic image of the hyper-elegant urban black would soon become one of the two essential stereotypes of the minstrel stage.

(Philadelphia: published variously by Wm. Simpson and S. Hart, 1828-1830)
You can enlarge the drawings by clicking on the icons at left.
Courtesy the Library Company of Philadelphia.