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Color poster of Fagin in jail for a theatrical production of Oliver Twist

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.635

Large color woodblock poster for a late 19th century US theatrical production of Dickens' Oliver Twist. It features a melodramatic scene of Fagin in a jail cell awaiting execution, derived from the original March 1839 illustration by George Cruikshank. It also has two inset vignettes of the Artful Dodger showing Oliver to his new friends: Fagin and then Fagin, two boys, and Bill Sykes and his dog Bull's Eye. Fagin is a devil-like Jewish criminal from the novel, Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens in 1837-39. The characterization is antisemitic and exploits many negative stereotypes. Often 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 and trains them to be thieves. Dickens rationalized the issue, saying that if a character was a fence, a dealer in stolen goods, he had to be a Jew because "that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew." Later adaptations of the novel have tried to sidestep the complications of Fagin's ethnic identity, or make him more of a comic figure, but his Jewishness, although a deplorable stereotype, is a central facet of his depiction. This poster is one of the more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Artwork Title
Fagin's Last Night Alive
Date
approximately 1885  (creation)
Geography
manufacture : Hartford (Conn.)
Language
English
Classification
Posters
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
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Record last modified: 2018-01-11 14:25:54
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn545095