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Painting of a richly dressed Jewish money lender counting his money

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.283

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    Painting of a richly dressed Jewish money lender counting his money


    Brief Narrative
    English oil painting of a Jewish money lender counting his coins in front of him, created around 1790. 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 painting is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    Artwork Title
    A Jewish Money Lender
    creation:  approximately 1790
    creation: England
    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

    Oil paintings.
    Physical Description
    Painting in oil on canvas depicting an older, bearded Jewish man wearing wire rimmed glasses and a dark green turban fondling his money as he counts it. There is a slight smile on his fleshy lips as he looks down at a coin in his left hand and prepares to place it in the golden colored cloth money bag held close to his chest. He is seated at a brown wooden table with his shoulder forward as he leans in toward the neat pile of coins in front of him. Laid out on the table are the tools he uses to keep track of his money: a money bag, a scale, a list of numbers, and a feather quill in an inkwell. The background is shaded brown. It is under glass in a gilt wooden frame.
    overall: Height: 9.500 inches (24.13 cm) | Width: 7.625 inches (19.368 cm) | Depth: 1.125 inches (2.858 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 7.500 inches (19.05 cm) | Width: 5.625 inches (14.287 cm)
    overall : canvas, oil paint, glass, wood

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    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 18:12:45
    This page:

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