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Painted porcelain Fagin with his toasting fork

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.613

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    Painted porcelain Fagin with his toasting fork

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    Brief Narrative
    Figurine of Fagin, holding his toasting fork, likely from a series marketed as Capodimonte porcelain, but produced in Germany and distributed in the United States by Ebeling & Reuss Co. Fagin, a character from Charles Dickens’ novel, “Oliver Twist,” is portrayed with a long beard, a large nose, thick eyebrows, and hooded eyes; all stereotypical physical features attributed to Jewish men. In “Oliver Twist,” Fagin is the villainous leader of a gang of children whom he has instructed in the ways of criminality. He attempts to corrupt the protagonist, Oliver, in the same manner. In the novel, Fagin is described in his first scene as hunched over a fire holding a toasting fork, imagery that reinforces the antisemitic stereotype of Jewish associations with the devil, due to its resemblance of a pitchfork. He is repeatedly referred to as “the Jew” in the book and also emphasized as a greedy, miserly, and cowardly character; all traits aligning with common antisemitic stereotypes. However, in a later edition of the novel, Dickens reduced his use of “the Jew,” substituting it for pronouns or other phrases. Even in this later version, Fagin is still repeatedly and negatively referred to as “the Jew,” and remains emblematic of multiple antisemitic canards. Later writings by Dickens portrayed Jews in a more positive light, however, the reprehensible Fagin is his most remembered Jewish character. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    manufacture:  after 1920-approximately 1930
    manufacture: Germany
    distribution: United States
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    base, underside, maker's mark, stamped, blue ink : five-pointed crown above N [copies the Capodimonte mark, but used by many German co.]
    base, underside, stamped, green ink : ERPHILA / GERMANY
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    Distributor: Ebeling & Reuss Co.
    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

    Decorative Arts
    Physical Description
    Glazed and painted porcelain figurine of a man holding a large, black, toasting fork near his left shoulder. He has a light-colored complexion with rosy cheeks, hooded eyes, a large, pointed nose, and wavy brown hair with a matching mustache and forked beard. He is dressed in a floppy black hat, red vest, long gray overcoat with yellow lining, blue breeches, and black slippers. A red handkerchief with white dots hangs from his right side pocket. He is standing in a slightly crouched position and leans forward leans. Just behind him is a green post extending upward from a white pedestal with a flat face, angled sides, and a curved back. A gold-colored line is painted just below the upper edge of the pedestal, and his name is impressed on the front. A maker's mark and manufacturing information are stamped on the underside in blue and green ink. There is a small, surface loss on his left foot.
    overall: Height: 4.875 inches (12.383 cm) | Width: 1.875 inches (4.763 cm) | Depth: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    overall : porcelain, glaze, paint, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name

    Administrative Notes

    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:
    2024-05-02 15:09:55
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