The Wandering Jew

The Wandering Jew

  • The true portrait of the wandering Jew / as seen in Avignon, April 22, 1784.

    ANONYMOUS

  • The true portrait of the wandering Jew / as seen in Avignon, April 22, 1784.

    ANONYMOUS

  • The Wandering Jew.

    GEORGIN François (1801 - 1863)

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Title: The true portrait of the wandering Jew / as seen in Avignon, April 22, 1784.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Date shown: April 22, 1784

Dimensions: Height 32.2 - Width 45

Technique and other indications: Full title: The real portrait of the wandering Jew / as we saw him pass in Avignon, April 22, 1784 New complaint, on a hunting tune Roiné (editor), Nantes Wood of thread colored with a stencil on laid paper

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

Picture reference: 02CE10155 / 985.1.1 C

The true portrait of the wandering Jew / as seen in Avignon, April 22, 1784.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

To close

Title: The true portrait of the wandering Jew / as seen in Avignon, April 22, 1784.

Author : ANONYMOUS (-)

Date shown: April 22, 1784

Dimensions: Height 39.6 - Width 30.5

Technique and other indications: Full title: The true portrait of the wandering Jew / as we saw him pass in Avignon, April 22, 1784. New complaint, on a hunting tune Huet-Perdoux (editor), Orléans stencil colored wood wood on laid paper

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

Picture reference: 02CE10149 / 52.67.5 C

The true portrait of the wandering Jew / as seen in Avignon, April 22, 1784.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

To close

Title: The Wandering Jew.

Author : GEORGIN François (1801 - 1863)

Creation date : 1826

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 65.5 - Width 42.2

Technique and other indications: Pellerin (publisher), Epinalbois colored stencil on paper

Storage location: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

Picture reference: 02CE10160 / 65.75.290 D

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - J.-G. Berizzi

Publication date: September 2004

Historical context

At first a medieval Christian legend, the story of Isaac Laquedem is a moral fable; then a shoemaker in Jerusalem, he insulted Christ and refused to help him carry the cross, which resulted in him being condemned by divine decree to walk the earth without being able to rest until the day of Judgment. It becomes under the July Monarchy one of the two most famous themes of imagery along with that of Napoleon.

Image Analysis

Three main types can be distinguished from conventional production. In the first, the wandering Jew stands motionless, face to face, in front of a backdrop made up of scenes taken from legend: the craftsman in his shop, the episode of blasphemy, Mount Calvary, and the meeting with the bourgeois of a contemporary city. Images of the second type, from a Parisian intaglio by Jean, retain the scenes but present the wandering Jew on the march. In those of the third type, the character of the walker stands out against a much more naturalistic background, evoking the journey through the presence of a seaside, a sailboat and a palm tree. Between the first two types and the third, a major stylistic break takes place, which reflects a global evolution of modes of composition in the field of popular imagery. Until the 1820s, popular images were divided into two corpora: those which incorporated certain canons of learned art, particularly in the field of perspective, and those which, presenting original compositions, matched modes of more traditional composition, in this case here the narrative juxtaposition of small scenes. The images influenced by painting consisted mainly of recopies of masterpieces, the laws of composition of the model being found by force in the popular image. For the other images, the visual codes remain separate from the influences of learned art: thus the size of the characters reflects their importance, and not an illusion of depth. From the 1820s, perspective intervened in the original compositions, and the common way of reading images evolved; the old compositions are no longer understood (the Wandering Jew is perceived as a giant, an interpretation which is a perceptual misunderstanding). When, in 1846, Glémarec proposed an image of the second type, he had to sacrifice to the new canons of representation: perspective and presumption of figurative realism.

Interpretation

The Wandering Jew is a witness to human history; when he meets the bourgeois of Avignon, he tells his own story but also what he saw: the birth and death of great empires. If medieval legend has links with the situation of European Jewish communities and if, at the end of the 19th century, the figure of the wandering Jew could be taken up by anti-Semitic caricatures, the images published between 1810 and 1850 do not seem to reflect taking a stand in relation to the Jews; they use the image of a historical Jew, contemporary of Christ, to propose a morality on the passing of time. Caught between a foundational moment - blasphemy - and an expected end - Judgment - the existence of the Wandering Jew is linear, irreversible and cumulative. If it is trite to say that the nineteenth century is the century of history, it is interesting to find in an image like that of the Wandering Jew the indication of a change in the sensitivity of the population in the aftermath of the great upheavals of the Revolution and the Empire, change which induces a favorable environment for the reception of the ideas of historical science.

  • popular imagery

Bibliography

George K. ANDERSON The Legend of the Wandering Jew Providence, Brown University Press, 1965 Champfleury History of popular imagery Paris, E. Dentu, 1869 Edgar KNECHT The Myth of the Wandering Jew: Essay on literary mythology and religious sociology Grenoble, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 1977 Frédéric MAGUET "The development of the theme of the wandering Jew in popular imagery in France and in Europe" in the catalog of the exhibition The wandering Jew, a witness of time, Paris, Adam Biro-Museum of Art and History of Judaism , 2001

To cite this article

Frédéric MAGUET, "The Wandering Jew"


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