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Painted porcelain Fagin with his toasting fork

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.613

Porcelain figurine of Fagin in top hat and long coat holding his toasting fork. It is from a series marketed as Capodimonte, but produced in Germany and distributed in the US. Fagin is a Jewish criminal from the novel, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, 1837-39. He is using a toasting fork when introduced, and is often portrayed with one because of its resemblance to the trident carried by the Devil. His characterization is antisemitic and exploits many negative stereotypes. Referred to as The Jew, Fagin is introduced as "villainous and repulsive." His nails are black, his few teeth are fangs, he is greedy, vicious, and kidnaps small children to make them thieves. Dickens rationalized it by saying that if he had a character who was a fence for stolen goods, he had to be a Jew because "that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew." Many adaptations try to sidestep the complications of Fagin's ethnic identity, and make him more of a comic figure, but the unpleasant Jewish stereotypes are central to his depiction. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Date
after 1920-approximately 1930  (manufacture)
Geography
manufacture : Germany
distribution : United States
Language
English
Classification
Decorative Arts
Category
Ceramics
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
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Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:25:51
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn545049