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Oil painting depicting a peddler buying eggs from a boy

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.570

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    Oil painting depicting a peddler buying eggs from a boy

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    Brief Narrative
    Polish, 19th-century oil painting on canvas, depicting a red-haired peddler buying stolen chicken eggs from a boy. Peddlers were itinerant vendors who sold goods to the public. Peddling was a common occupation for young Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. However, old prejudices formed an antisemitic stereotype of the Jewish peddler. The stereotype 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 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 depiction of wicked Jewish characters as redheads also has a long history. Some interpretations of the Bible describe Esau and David (King of Israel), as having red hair, and for many red hair became a Jewish identifier, even though Jews are no more likely to have red hair than other groups. In medieval Europe, redheads were regarded as untrustworthy, and the literary villains Fagin and Shylock had red hair. The painting is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    Artwork Title
    Jewish peddler buying stolen eggs
    creation:  approximately 1800-1899
    creation: Poland
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    front, lower left corner, light brown paint : A. Chantelowsky(?)
    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

    Object Type
    Genre painting (lcsh)
    Oil Paintings.
    Physical Description
    Oil on canvas painting depicting a smiling man buying stolen eggs from two young boys. The man stands in the center, leaning towards the right with one hand in his pocket. He has red hair and a long beard and wears a black hat, brown coat and pants with patches, tall black boots, and a long scarf. Hanging from his arm is a basket with bread, fish, and mushrooms inside. On the right is a blonde boy, reaching into his shirt opening with his right hand and cradling the front of his shirt with his left arm. He wears a red hat with a black band, a long white sleeved shirt, a brown belt with raised circles, ragged brown pants with multiple holes and patches, and no shoes. On the ground in front of the boy is a red cloth with several eggs on it. On the left, the other boy is the lookout, leaning out an open door. He wears a red hat, long brown coat, brown belt with raised circles, short blue pants, and no shoes. A gray and red key hangs from his belt. Light streams in through the open door. The figures stand inside a barn with hay on the floor and hanging from the loft above. There is a signature in the lower left corner. It is framed in a polished, gilt and brown stained wooden frame with an embossed floral and dot design.
    overall: Height: 33.125 inches (84.138 cm) | Width: 28.125 inches (71.438 cm) | Depth: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm)
    pictorial area: Height: 26.500 inches (67.31 cm) | Width: 21.375 inches (54.293 cm)
    overall : canvas, oil paint

    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 18:13:48
    This page:

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