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Brass door knocker with the head of an evil looking Shylock

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.14

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    Brass door knocker with the head of an evil looking Shylock

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    Brief Narrative
    Brass door knocker with the head of Shylock from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who demands that his contract for a pound of flesh, owed by a youth for not repaying a loan, be paid in full. First published in 1600 in England, Shylock's characteristics are based upon long standing stereotypes, still popular in a country where Jews had been expelled for 300 years. At times, the portrayal is sympathetic, and we are shown how society and his Christian enemies cruelly mistreat him, but at the end, Shylock is punished for his greed and forced to convert. The play was extremely popular in Nazi Germany, with fifty productions from 1933-1945. Despite the stereotypical anti-Jewish elements, the play continues to spark debate over whether it is antisemitic. This door knocker is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  approximately 1910
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    The Katz Ehrenthal Collection is a collection of more than 900 objects depicting Jews and antisemitic and anti-Jewish propaganda from the medieval to the modern era, in Europe, Russia, and the United States. The collection was amassed by Peter Ehrenthal, a Romanian Holocaust survivor, to document the pervasive history of anti-Jewish hatred in Western art, politics and popular culture. It includes crude folk art as well as pieces created by Europe's finest craftsmen, prints and periodical illustrations, posters, paintings, decorative art, and toys and everyday household items decorated with depictions of stereotypical Jewish figures.

    Physical Details

    Decorative Arts
    Object Type
    Door knockers (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Cast brass door knocker with a hollow, open bust of a man in three quarters profile centered vertically on a narrow, rectangular plate. The man has unpleasantly exaggerated Jewish features: stringy sidelocks, forelock, and beard, thick eyebrows over bulging eyes, a long hooked nose, and fleshy lips. He looks balefully to the right with narrowed eyes and snarling mouth. He wears a dimpled, textured skullcap and a lapelled garment with Shylock engraved on the right shoulder. The plate has a scrollwork knob on the top and a grooved triangular point at the bottom. The top of the head is attached to a continuous hinge on the upper plate; one knocks by lifting the head or knocker and striking it on the plate. There is a circular hole near each end of the plate to attach it to a door.
    overall: Height: 4.875 inches (12.383 cm) | Width: 2.125 inches (5.398 cm) | Depth: 0.125 inches (0.318 cm)
    overall : brass

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The door knocker was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by the Katz Family.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Special Collection
    Katz Ehrenthal Collection
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:12:34
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