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Color print of a Jewish clothes peddler in Copenhagen

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.246

Copper engraving depicting a clothes peddler with several colorful garments draped over his arm. Johannes Senn likely drew the original image as part of a series called, “Dress Costumes in Copenhagen,” published by GL Lahde in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the early 18th century. The man in the image has a large nose, fleshy lips, and a beard; stereotypical physical features commonly attributed to Jewish men. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who sold goods to the public. Clothes peddlers dealt in old garments they bought, cleaned and repaired, and then sold for profit. Peddling was a common occupation for Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, old prejudices originating from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews formed an antisemitic stereotype of Jewish peddlers. They were barred from owning land, farming, joining trade guilds, and military service. These restrictions limited Jews to the occupations of retail peddling, hawking, and moneylending. 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 and willing to engage in unethical business practices. The inability of Jews 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 peddler, an untrustworthy figure that sold cut-rate items at inflated prices. The print is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Artwork Title
Skakker Jöde
Alternate Title
Clothes Jew
Dress Costumes in Copenhagen
Series Title
publication/distribution:  approximately 1800-approximately 1830
publication: Copenhagen (Denmark)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:12:44
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