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Bronze statue of a Jewish money changer

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.155

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    Bronze statue of a Jewish money changer


    Brief Narrative
    Bronze 19th-century figurine of a Jewish money changer looking at the coins in his hands. The figurine was possibly made in the style of Vienna Bronze, bronze sculptures made in a Viennese handcraft tradition that incorporates artistic finishes that began in Austria around 1850. Money changers exchanged foreign coins or currency for those used locally. Many antisemitic depictions of Jews show them hoarding, counting, or handling money. These stereotypes 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 forced many Jews into occupations such as money changing or 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, greedy, and willing to engage in unethical business practices. Jews’ inability 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 man expressing an exaggerated desire for, or counting money. The figurine is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  1800-1899
    creation: Austria
    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
    Large, heavy, cast bronze statue of a Jewish money changer looking down at several coins in each upturned, cupped palm. His balding head is tilted to the left, chin tucked against his chest, and his fleshy lips are parted in a slight smile. He has a wrinkled forehead, big ears, thick eyebrows, deepset, heavily hooded eyes, a big pointed nose, and a short, trimmed beard. His arms are at his sides, right forearm raised across his waist. He wears a long overcoat with large buttons and wide lapels and thick soled shoes. He stands with his feet together, leaning slightly to the left, upon an open, hollow, cylindrical base with extended rims and horizontal grooves around the body.
    overall: Height: 12.750 inches (32.385 cm) | Width: 4.375 inches (11.113 cm) | Depth: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm)
    overall : bronze

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    The bronze figurine 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 18:12:38
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