2. Le Juif-Errant (The Wandering Jew), Epinal: Pellerin, [ca. 1826-1830]. Hand-colored wood engraving by famous engraver François Georgin (1801-1863) (25 1/8 x 16 5/8 in.; 639 x 424 mm). Horizontal fold trace barely visible on the front.
3. Le vrai portrait du Juif-Errant (The True Portrait of the Wandering Jew), Montbéliard: Deckherr, [ca. 1830-1840]. Hand-colored wood engraving (17 x 12 5/8 in.; 430 x 318 mm).
The figure of the Wandering Jew is based on a medieval Christian legend of a shoemaker in Jerusalem who refused to help Jesus carry the cross and, in some versions, ridiculed and even struck him on his way to the Crucifixion. For his sin, he was condemned to roam the earth ceaselessly until the Day of Judgment. In the centuries since its popularization, the story took on various layers of meaning depending on the historical context in which it was told. Beginning in the seventeenth century, the Wandering Jew was the subject of complaintes, or lyric laments, by French popular singers. During the period of Restoration following the fall of Napoleon, these compositions were often paired with depictions of the mythic figure, sometimes (as in the first print here) narrating the events surrounding his arrival at a particular locale.
Josephus Johannes Gielen, De wandelende Jood in volkskunde en letterkunde (Amsterdam: De Spieghel, 1931).
Frédéric Maguet, “Le développement du thème du Juif errant dans l’imagerie populaire en France et en Europe,” in Juliette Braillon-Philippe and Laurence Golstenne (eds.), Le Juif errant: un témoin du temps (Paris: Adam Biro; Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, 2001), 90-107, and 179 (no. 49).
Gaël Milin, Le cordonnier de Jérusalem: la véritable histoire du Juif errant (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 1997).
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