’Kalapin’

John Pettie

1863

Wood engraving by the Dalziel Brothers

7 x 4¼ inches

Illustration for Good WordsLondon: Strahan, 1863, facing p.476.

A typical Pettie image of an adult comforting or guiding a child, though unusual in that it shows a black man rather the usual weather-worn faces of elderly Britons. It illustrates ‘Kalapin’ by ‘The Countess de Gasparin’, and is markedly at odds with the author’s description of the main character. According to the writer, this ‘particular negro’ is ‘Ugly, yes!’ even if he manages to be ‘neat and clean’ (p.473) in the manner of every respectable bourgeois, and is unlikely to offend: a typical example of the casual racism that modern audiences find so repugnant. [Commentary continued below].

[Click on image to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Simon Cooke

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