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A Design for a Scene in the Intended new Melo Drama intitled the Forty Thieves

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.388

A variation of an etching created in March 1806 by caricaturist and political satirist, Isaac Cruikshank. The original is a commentary on Whig Party leader, Charles Fox, and the recently formed Ministry of All the Talents (active 1806-1807) in Great Britain. Following the death of William Pitt the younger, William Grenville created a governing body containing representatives of the three major political parliamentary groups of the era, including Charles Fox and Richard Sheridan. Fox converses with a shabbily dressed Jewish man regarding reform plans, while depicted as a manager of a tavern frequented by ministry members. Fox was a gambler and notorious for his indebtedness to Jewish moneylenders. Many critics questioned his associations with Jews. Sheridan, the red-faced figure in the tavern, was also the playwright responsible for The Forty Thieves, referenced in the title of the cartoon. The play was licensed in March 1806, and became a popular show that year. This further association between the Ministry and thieves is another allusion to Jews, who were stereotypically described as greedy, unscrupulous, disloyal, and untrustworthy wrongdoers. They were often portrayed as hoping only to enrich themselves, typically at the expense of others. This canard stems from the economic and professional restrictions placed on early European Jews, which forced many into occupations such as money changing or lending and banking. This perceived aspect was often depicted as a shabbily dressed Jew interacting with more respectable-looking members of the public. This print is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

publication/distribution:  1806 March
publication: London (England)
Object Type
Etching (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:13:44
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