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Bronze statue of a Jewish money changer

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.155

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
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2021-04-09 16:21:45
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