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Bronze figurine of a Jewish peddler with a burlap sack

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.611

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    Bronze figurine of a Jewish peddler with a burlap sack

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Bronze figurine of a Jewish peddler carrying a burlap sack on his back. Peddlers were vendors who traveled the countryside and sold goods to the public. They usually traveled alone and carried their goods with them as they went. Peddling was a common occupation for young Jewish men during the 18th and 19th centuries. Most peddlers hoped their hard work would serve as a springboard to more lucrative and comfortable occupations. 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. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    Date
    undated: 
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    Contributor
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    Biography
    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

    Classification
    Art
    Category
    Sculpture
    Genre/Form
    Metalwork.
    Physical Description
    Heavy, cast bronze figurine of a Jewish peddler in midstride with a light brown burlap sack, tied shut with string, glued to his back. His hands grip the cast shoulder straps on his chest. He wears a domed hat with a brim, an open, knee-length jacket, trousers, and knee-high boots. He looks straight ahead with oval, hooded eyes under thick eyebrows, and has a hooked nose, full beard, and bushy sidelocks. His slightly bent left leg leads, with his right leg stretched behind. He is attached to a textured, square plate attached to a larger square block with a cloth covered underside.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm) | Depth: 2.000 inches (5.08 cm)
    Materials
    overall : bronze, burlap, string, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The figurine 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 18:13:49
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn545047

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