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Oil painting on ivory of a turbaned Sephardic Jew counting money

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.279

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    Oil painting on ivory of a turbaned Sephardic Jew counting money

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    Brief Narrative
    Oil painting of a Sephardic Jew, painted by 18th-century French artist, M. de Burman. The painting shows a Jewish man, wearing a turban and counting gold coins and other valuables. Sephardic Jews are the descendants of the 200,000 Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492, during the Spanish Inquisition. Many Sephardi escaped to Turkey, where they were free to practice their religion and participate in commerce. Consequently, many depictions of Sephardi have exaggerated, exotic Eastern motifs, known as Orientalism. Two of the most ubiquitous antisemitic myths are Jew’s flair for finance and Jewish greed for wealth. They were often depicted as images of Jews counting money or hoarding valuables. 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 the occupation of 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 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 man expressing an exaggerated desire for, or counting money. The painting is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    Artwork Title
    Sephardic Jew in Turban Counting his Money
    creation:  1700-1799
    creation: France
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    front, lower left, black paint: M. de Burman
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    Artist: M. DeBurman
    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

    Oil paintings.
    Physical Description
    Framed oil on ivory portrait depicting an elderly man counting his gold coins. He has dark eyes and a full white beard and wears a red and white turban and blue, red, and white robes. He is seated on a chair, facing forward, with his right arm resting on a pile of gold coins on a table. There is an open ledger, scale, and keys on the table. In his left hand, he is holding a white pouch, likely filled with coins, over an open trunk on the floor. There are more white pouches, shiny cloth, and silver dishware in the trunk, and a vase, plate, and shiny cloth on a dresser in the background. A sword and flute hang from the wall. There is a stone archway in the background. The painting is under glass framed in a rectangular black painted wooden frame with an ivory border with inlaid brown wood flourishes.
    overall: Height: 6.500 inches (16.51 cm) | Width: 4.625 inches (11.747 cm)
    overall : celluloid, oil paint
    Ad u?sGO del P. Angelmo da Malta ex Cuypalado
    ex ca lado ca/ 1870?2?

    Rights & Restrictions

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

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    Administrative Notes

    The painting 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 18:12:44
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