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Small ceramic figure of a Jewish man in a long red coat

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.30

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    Small ceramic figure of a Jewish man in a long red coat


    Brief Narrative
    Small ceramic figurine of a man, possibly a Jewish peddler, holding a small bundle. The man has a prominent, molded nose, with painted sidelocks and a beard; all stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who traveled the countryside and sold goods to the public. They usually traveled alone and carried their goods with them as they went. Peddling was a common occupation for young Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. Most peddlers hoped their hard work would serve as a springboard to more lucrative and comfortable occupations. However, old prejudices formed an antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish peddler. The stereotype originated from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews. 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 moneylending. 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. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  approximately 1700-1799
    creation: Bohemia (Czech Republic)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    bottom, handwritten, blue : N
    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
    Physical Description
    Small, ceramic figurine shaped as a man with colored details. He wears a floor-length red coat with a green sash tied around his waist, a black hat with a wide brim, and black shoes. His face is nearly flat, except for his large, molded nose. His other features are painted on a white face in black: curly sidelocks and a pointed beard, arched eyebrows, eyes, and a downturned, semi-circular mouth. He carries a black bundle at his waist in the crook of his left arm, and his right arm is at his side. He stands on a low, square-shaped platform with a green surface and white sides. The figure is shiny and glazed overall. On the underside of the platform, there is a small hole and an uppercase letter “N” painted in blue. The brim of the hat is chipped with a large loss at the front. The back corners of the platform are also chipped, revealing gray ceramic beneath. The color is faded and was applied unevenly to the surface. The white face, hands, and platform have a crackled surface.
    overall: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 1.500 inches (3.81 cm) | Depth: 1.375 inches (3.493 cm)
    overall : ceramic, glaze

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Bohemia (Czech Republic)

    Administrative Notes

    The figure 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:
    2023-01-31 14:16:37
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