Object of the Semester – Winter Semester 2022/23
Lothar Meggendorfer’s “Revolving Picture Joke”
A contribution from our former student assistant Jennifer Heidtke
In 1889, Lothar Meggendorfer’s object series “L. Meggendorfer’s Revolving Picture Joke” was advertised in a supplement of the humor magazine Fliegende Blätter. There is no verified date for the origin of what is assumed to be a ten-part series. But it is likely that the Wilhelm Loos publishing company in Munich was the first to release it, in 1889/90. A customer could purchase one of the objects, which made fun of Polish Jewry, for 75 pfennigs.
These “Jewish bodies” have no basis in reality; they relate to handed-down stereotypes, myths and established images demonizing the Jew. Supposedly “Jewish facial features” are often depicted in combination with deformed bodies, thus completing the construction of irreversible physical difference. The movable aspect of the “Image Joke” supplements the antisemitic imagery announced on the cover: The men’s heads are positioned in the center. Their faces are dirty, their noses are unusually long, wide and hooked, their mouths are gapingly large with bulging lips, and they both wear long beards and side curls. Their expressions are highly distorted, making their faces look ugly, sick, evil and demonic.
“At that time, a range of artworks… began to feature at least one male Jewish figure drawn in stark profile, with somewhat gross features, a hostile, brutish, or ferocious expression, and a pointed, scraggly beard. … In several of these works, the Jew in question displays a distinctively hooked or beaked nose.”
 See Beiblatt der Fliegenden Blätter, No. 2293, Erstes Blatt, 7 July 1889, https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/fb_bb91/0030 [accessed on 16 January 2023].
 See Sara Lipton, “What’s in a Nose? The Origins, Development, and Influence of Medieval Anti-Jewish Caricature,” in: Jonathan Adams/Cordelia Heß (eds.), The Medieval Roots of Antisemitism. Continuities and Discontinuities from the Middle Ages to Present Day, New York 2018, pp. 183-203, here p. 190.
 Isabel Enzenbach, “Antisemitismus in der zeitgenössischen Karikatur. Das Beispiel der Netanjahu/Netta-Zeichnung in der ‘Süddeutschen Zeitung’,” in: Visual History. Online-Nachschlagewerk für die historische Bildforschung, published online on 17 December 2018, https://www.visual-history.de/2018/12/17/antisemitismus-in-der-zeitgenoessischen-karikatur/ [accessed on 16 January 2023].
 See Monika Schwarz-Friesel/Jehuda Reinharz, Die Sprache der Judenfeindschaft im 21. Jahrhundert, Berlin/Boston 2012, p. 61.
 See Klaus Hödl, “Ostjuden,” in: Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Judenfeindschaft in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Bd. 3: Begriffe, Theorien, Ideologien, published by Wolfgang Benz, Berlin 2010, pp. 260-262, here p. 260.