Methodist Prayer Meeting, Philadelphia, 1811-1813

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This record was last updated on 16 May 2011

Image Reference

Pavel Petrovich Svinin, Opyt zhivopisnago puteshestviia po sievernoi Amerikie. (St. Petersberg, 1815), foldout facing p. 43. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library)

Engraving titled, “Bogosluzheine Afrikanskikh Metodistov” [Black Methodists holding a prayer meeting], shows large group of African Americans (probably all free) in front of a building, with a man, perhaps the preacher, in the doorway; men, women, children, in demonstrative and exhuberant prayer, moving, shouting, etc. Svinin, a young Russian diplomat, arrived at Philadelphia in 1811 and stayed in the U.S. for about 20 months, mostly in Philadelphia. He produced a number of watercolors of his trip, one of which was the source of the illustration shown here. See Avrahm Yarmolinsky, Picturesque United States of America, 1811, 1812, 1813, being a memoir on Paul Svinin . . . containing copious excerpts from his account of his travels in America, with fifty-two reproductions of water colors in his own sketch-book (New York, 1930); plate 18 is a black/white reproduction of the prayer meeting. M. Harris, Colored Pictures (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2003), p. 34, identifies this picture as "A Negro group in front of the Bank of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia."