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Faience tile with an image of a Jewish peddler with a large box on his back

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.9

French faience tile with a colorful image of a stereotypical Jewish peddler created in the 18th century. Faience is earthenware that is coated with a tin-glaze, which gives it a milky, opaque white color. This technique was popular in France from the late 16th century through the 18th century. French manufacturers produced tea sets, tiles, plates, and tureens decorated with elaborate designs and artistic images. The peddler in the image has a large nose and a long beard, two stereotypical Jewish features. Peddling was a common occupation for young Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, old prejudices originating from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews formed an antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish peddler. They were barred from owning land, farming, joining trade guilds, and military service. These restrictions limited Jews to the occupations of retail peddling, hawking, and money lending. Additionally, medieval religious belief held that charging interest (known as usury) was sinful, and the Jews who occupied these professions were looked down upon predominantly by European Christians. They were perceived as morally deficient and willing to engage in unethical business practices. The inability of Jews to legally hold other occupations, combined with Christians’ disdain for the professions Jews were allowed to practice, helped form the canard of the greedy Jew who exploited Gentiles. This canard was often visually depicted as a Jewish peddler, an untrustworthy figure that sold cut-rate items at inflated prices. Often, they were shown carrying a sack on their back or a tray around their midsection. This tile is one of the 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

creation:  1700-1799
creation: Alsace (France)
Decorative Arts
Object Type
Ceramic tiles (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-05-31 12:43:31
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