Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Art History & Archaeology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



At the end of the long nineteenth century, the Parisian press often described French Jews as greedy, cosmopolitan, materialistic, traitors—and avid collectors of modern art. While several of these characterizations are mere anti-Semitic stereotypes, French Jews did make up a disproportionately large number of the supporters of modern artists (particularly of the Impressionists and Symbolists). This dissertation examines this kind of collector, the significance of their many donations to State museums, and how this rhetoric about the Jewish affinity for modern art relates to the political landscape of the Third Republic and the concurrent rise of antisemitism in France. This study is organized as a series of case studies, each focusing on a collector’s relationship with an artist: Charles Ephrussi and Auguste Renoir; Count Isaac de Camondo and Edgar Degas; Charles Hayem and Gustave Moreau; and Thadée and Misia Natanson and Édouard Vuillard. The first and second case studies address why so many Jewish collectors were attracted to modern art. The third and fourth case studies examine how Jewish ownership shaped the way contemporaries understood this art, compelling them to describe it with language steeped in anti-Semitic stereotypes. This dissertation demonstrates how Jewish collectors in Paris played an active part in the canonization of modern art and had an unwitting role in its vilification.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Elizabeth C. Childs

Committee Members

John Klein, Hillel Kieval, Ila N. Sheren, Simon Kelly,


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