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Terracotta of a customs officer harassing a Jewish peddler and his son

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.48

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    Terracotta of a customs officer harassing a Jewish peddler and his son


    Brief Narrative
    Colorful terracotta figure group based upon a watercolor, Customs House, created by Hieronymous Hess in 1838. The sculpture was modelled by Anton Sohn in early 19th century Germany. It shows a uniformed French customs agent tormenting a comically dressed Jewish peddler and his small crying son by grinding his foot in the merchant's open sack of belongings. The work has many painted and molded details. Sohn (1769-1841), trained as a church painter, established a workshop in Zizenhausen, Germany, that was celebrated for its exceptionally detailed and elaborate terracotta figurines. His subject matter ranged widely and included genre and satirical groups on popular, topical themes, and religious figurines which were favorites for Christmas displays in homes, as well as businesses. This figure group is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    Artwork Title
    Der Zollgardift: Gottes Wunder, wie bin ich ach eingegangen
    The Customs guard: Oh, wonder how I stepped in this
    manufacture:  1838-1842
    manufacture: Zizenhausen (Germany)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    Artisan: Anton Sohn
    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
    Molded, polychrome, painted terracotta figure group of a uniformed customs guard inspecting a Jewish peddler with his son at the customs booth. On the left, facing right, the guard kneels on his right knee, with his bent left leg inside an opened sack filled with objects, crushing some with his foot. He grasps the peddler's long, red-brown overcoat with his left hand and points at the sack with his right index finger. The peddler stands bent kneed, white gloved hands raised, palms out. A young boy stands behind him crying, with his right hand over 1 eye and his left on the back of his head. The guard has a ruddy complexion, curly gray hair with an elaborate mustache and beard and wears a black, cockaded shako, green jacket with epaulets, and blue trousers, both with red piping, and a cross belt with sword. The peddler stares at him with alarm. His red, thick lipped mouth is open in surprise, showing gapped teeth. He has a very long, bulbous nose, trim mustache and beard, puffy red cheeks, baggy eyes, and a creased face. He wears a black skullcap under his brown top hat, a buttoned red, white and blue striped waistcoat, wrinkled black breeches, with a silver star buckle, sagging black and white striped stockings, and buckled shoes. The boy wears a green cap, blue smock, and red and white striped pants with sacks over his shoulders. The booth has a thatched roof, a doorway where a coat hangs, next to a propped rifle, a small shelf holding a pitcher, with a snake nailed above. It has a green, elongated oval base with a label adhered to the front. For another version, see 2016.184.591.
    overall: Height: 6.375 inches (16.192 cm) | Width: 8.750 inches (22.225 cm) | Depth: 1.625 inches (4.128 cm)
    overall : terracotta, paint, glaze
    front, base, paper label, black ink : Gottes Wunder, wie bin ich ach eingegangen (Oh, God's wonder how did I step in this]
    back, top, red marker : 44

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Sohn, Anton, 1769-1841.

    Administrative Notes

    The terracotta figure group 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 14:16:40
    This page:

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