“Leur Patrie,” (Their Homeland)

Item Description

Books like Eduard Drumont’s La France Juive and, of course, his weekly illustrated magazine updated the medieval trope of the “wandering Jew” to reference 19th century concerns about loyalty to one’s racial and cultural “patrie,” over abstract concepts of European and international identity. Reflecting the anti-Semite’s belief that the Jew’s national loyalty extends only so far as his personal finances, in this image the pan-national “embrace” of this caricatured rag-picker is a stifling one. Here the Jew with no country makes his mark world-wide, digging in his “claws” everywhere and anywhere money is to be had.

It is no small irony that at the time Esnault conjured this fiction, such a figure’s real-life analogue would have been the French Republic, which had at that point claimed a stake in almost every continent, draining the resources of over forty protectorates and colonies in Western and Equatorial Africa, Oceania, and South East Asia.