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Painting of a richly dressed Jewish money lender counting his money

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.283

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
Date
creation:  approximately 1790
Geography
creation: England
Classification
Art
Category
Paintings
Genre/Form
Oil paintings.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
 
Record last modified: 2021-04-08 12:05:36
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn539089