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Bronze statue of a Jewish man as the pagan god Mercury

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.96

Bronze sculpture by Bruno Zach of the pagan deity Mercury as an offensively buffoonish Jewish man. The antisemitic intent of the work is not limited to the loathsome physical depiction. By making the Jewish man in the image of Mercury, the depiction merged Jewish identity with a practice it condemned, idol worship. Mercury was frequently used to symbolize idolatry in rabbinical literature. Mercury was the Roman god of merchants and travellers, as well as thieves, and his caduceus was originally a magical wand used for incantations and alchemy. These were all professions - commerce, peddling, theft, and alchemy, with which Jews were associated in longheld stereotypes. Zach (1891-1935) was a popular sculptor, best known for his erotica, in early 20th century Vienna, Austria, where antisemitism was widespread and openly expressed, and a popular cause for many political parties. This sculpture is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Artwork Title
Mercury the Jew
Date
approximately 1910-before 1935  (creation)
Geography
creation : Vienna (Austria)
Classification
Art
Category
Sculpture
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
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Record last modified: 2018-10-24 14:08:13
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn537330