Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens “Fagin The Jew” Anti-Semitic Vintage Poster 1880s


Out of stock

Dimensions 99 × 203 cm





Artist / Creator




Dickens Poster with Fagin the Jew 1880s Color woodblock poster.
Approx. 203 x 99 cm. (80×39″), linen-backed. Cruikshank, George, Hartford, CT, Calhoun Print. Co.
Date: [c.1880s]

A brilliant example of late 19th century woodblock technology. This poster was created from individual boxwood blocks produced separately for each color. The imposing size provides room for three separate vignettes from the novel Oliver Twist. The largest and central image being Fagin’s Last Night Alive (Fagin alone is in his cell), Oliver Introduced to the Old Gent, and Oliver’s Reception by Fagin and the Boys. Fagin appears in each drawing bearing the characteristically loathsome Jewish nose as seen through anti-Semitic vision. Oliver Twist was soon adapted for the theater where it proved to be an enduring favorite. This poster would have been used as an advertisement for such a production in America.

Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens’s second novel, was written in 1837 and tells the story of the orphan Oliver set against the seamy underside of the London criminal world. First published in monthly parts in Bentley’s Miscellany, it was originally illustrated by George Cruikshank from which these images are produced.

Dickens was severely criticized for introducing criminals and prostitutes as well as targeting the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 which renewed the importance of the workhouse as a means for relief for the poor. The public apparently wanted more of the lighter fair that had been given to them in The Pickwick Papers. The anti-Semitism, ingrained into English society at the time Oliver Twist was written also emerged boldly in Dickens’s depiction of Fagin who was seen as a crook and a corrupter of young children. This vivid portrait endures as one of the most memorable of any of the author’s characters and maintains its fascination due to the complexity of the character. Fagin is a Jew and an immigrant and as such had to live under appalling conditions. Although he robs, steals, and trains young boys to be criminals he also possesses a moral sense. It is this which makes him so compelling.
The poster is very rare, and very seldom comes to the market.

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