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Small dish with a painting of a Jew scratching himself

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.131

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    Small dish with a painting of a Jew scratching himself

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    Brief Narrative
    Small, tin novelty plate with a painted image of a Jewish man scratching himself, framed by a garland of onions or garlic bulbs. The man is wearing a kippah and has several stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men: a large nose, sidelocks, and a beard. He appears well dressed, with a collared jacket and a dapper shirt, but he is scratching his chest in an uncouth manner. Below the image is a garland of white vegetables, either onions or garlic bulbs. Both vegetables are traditionally associated with Jews. They are also mentioned in the Bible and in rabbinic literature. During the 19th century, it was believed that Jews had an odor that resembled the smell of onion and garlic, caused by bad hygiene or a poor diet. This was an evolution of an older, unfounded antisemitic belief known as “foetor judaicus,” which was a perceived stench that emanated from Jews. Foetor judaicus was used as an extension of several unsubstantiated myths. Its perceived existence was used to legitimize other antisemitic beliefs and it was an invented consequence of Jews’ supposed wicked actions. Some believed foetor judaicus was a curse on Jews from God, others believed that the odor was an effect of blood libel (the baseless belief that Jews ritually murdered Christians). A third belief was that foetor judaicus was an effect of Jews’ propensity for male menstruation and evidence of Jewish male femininity. This plate is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  1800-1899
    creation: Europe
    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
    Physical Description
    Small, circular, tin dish with a shallow, well painted, brightly colored image of a Jewish man from the waist up, on a shiny gold painted background. He has raised bushy eyebrows over baggy eyes, a large nose, thick, curled brown side locks, and a trim, forked beard. His lips are pressed in a frown and he gestures with a his left arm bent and palm turned out palm, while, palm turned out, while scratching his chest with his right hand. He wears a red/brown kippah, blue jacket, and a yellow vest with a plaid sash tied around his waist. Below him is a garland with white garlic or onion bulbs with long, narrow, green leaves. The dish has slightly curved sides, a rolled rim, and a flat bottom. The underside is brown and stained.
    overall: | Depth: 0.500 inches (1.27 cm) | Diameter: 3.500 inches (8.89 cm)
    overall : tin, paint

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The plate 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:
    2022-07-28 18:30:18
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