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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

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


    Brief Narrative
    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)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    The Katz Ehrenthal Collection is a collection of more than 900 objects depicting Jews and antisemitic and anti-Jewish propaganda from the medieval to the modern era, in Europe, Russia, and the United States. The collection was amassed by Peter Ehrenthal, a Romanian Holocaust survivor, to document the pervasive history of anti-Jewish hatred in Western art, politics and popular culture. It includes crude folk art as well as pieces created by Europe's finest craftsmen, prints and periodical illustrations, posters, paintings, decorative art, and toys and everyday household items decorated with depictions of stereotypical Jewish figures.

    Physical Details

    Decorative Arts
    Object Type
    Ceramic tiles (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular, glazed, ceramic tile with a painted image of a man wearing bright blue, knee-length, cuffed jacket with brown breeches and a purple tricorn hat. He has a long beard, brown hair, and a large, pointed nose. He carries a hinged, wooden box slung over his shoulder, and uses a walking stick as he strides across a grassy path. The off-white and gray background is discolored and portions of the decorated surface have worn away throughout. The tile has worn, chipped edges, and there are several losses, especially along the bottom edge and in the lower left corner. The back of the tile is unglazed, tan, and stained with mortar.
    overall: Height: 4.625 inches (11.747 cm) | Width: 8.375 inches (21.273 cm) | Depth: 0.625 inches (1.588 cm)
    overall : ceramic, glaze

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Alsace (France)

    Administrative Notes

    The tile was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by the Katz Family.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Special Collection
    Katz Ehrenthal Collection
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:11:16
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