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Bronze figurine of a Jewish schnorrer in his traditional long coat

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.631

Bronze figurine of a Jewish schnorrer, made in Austria during the 19th century. The figurine was possibly made in the style of Vienna Bronze, a handcraft tradition of bronze sculptures incorporating artistic finishes that began in Vienna, Austria around 1850. Schnorrer is a Judeo-German term for a Jewish beggar. During the Chmielnicki pogroms in Poland (1648-57), hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed and thousands of Jews fled west after the destruction of their homes and way of life. Afterward, the influx of destitute Jewish refugees in central Europe helped create the archetype of the Jewish beggar, or schnorrer. Unlike a beggar or panhandler who could be distinguished by their ragged outward appearance, a stereotypical schnorrer dressed respectably. Schnorrers were characterized as impudent, with an air of entitlement to disguise their true needs from charitable individuals. They were evasive about why they needed assistance, and were not satisfied with small favors. Typical reasons given for a schnorrer’s collection included recovering from the destruction of their home, or funding the dowry for their daughter or another relative. Schnorrers were said to invert the act of charity by asking for handouts. They give the affluent members of society a chance to do a good deed, which complies with the Jewish communal practice of providing aid to those less well off in the community. This act of kindness meant the charitable patron should be thankful to the schnorrer for providing the opportunity. This figurine is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

creation:  1800-1899
creation: Austria
Decorative Arts
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 18:13:49
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