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Toby Jug of Shylock holding his contract

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.17

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    Toby Jug of Shylock holding his contract


    Brief Narrative
    Toby jug depicting Shylock from Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice. It was manufactured by the English pottery company, SylvaC, which was in operation from 1894 until 1982. Toby jugs were first made in the mid-18th century and are ceramic pitchers modeled on full-bodied representations of popular characters. Shylock has a large nose, fleshy lips, thick eyebrows, hooded eyes, and a beard; all stereotypical physical features attributed to Jewish men. Jews were expelled from England in 1290, making it unlikely that Shakespeare ever met a Jewish person, and he likely based Shylock on long standing antisemitic stereotypes. In the play, Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who demands a pound of flesh as recompense from a merchant who failed to repay a loan. Although some scenes make him a sympathetic character, and show how society and his Christian enemies cruelly mistreat him, in the end, he is punished and forced to convert to Christianity. The play was extremely popular in Nazi Germany, with fifty productions between 1933 and 1939. The Ministry of Propaganda created edited versions of the play that removed scenes and lines that evoked sympathy for Shylock or Jews. The Nazis used Shylock to promote Jewish inferiority by making him emblematic of the Jewish race’s perceived wickedness. These versions ignored the ambiguity Shylock was originally infused with, and portrayed him as an avaricious and vengeful character that was grotesque and inhuman. Despite the stereotypical and anti-Jewish elements, the play remains popular and continues to spark debates over whether it should be considered antisemitic. This pitcher is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.
    creation:  1930-1982
    creation: Staffordshire (England)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
    bottom, impressed : 4478
    bottom, stamped, black ink : SYLVAC / STAFFORDSHIRE / HAND / PAINTED / MADE IN ENGLAND / SHYLOCK
    Compiler: Peter Ehrenthal
    Manufacturer: SylvaC
    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

    Household Utensils
    Drinking vessels
    Object Type
    Pitchers (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Painted ceramic pitcher shaped as a short, stout man with his front forming the left side of pitcher, his right the spout, and his left the handle. The man is portrayed with an oversized nose, fleshy lips, thick eyebrows, and hooded eyes, in addition to long gray hair and a beard. He wears a large, floor-length, tan cloak which also forms the body of the pitcher and the D-shaped handle. He wears brown trousers with gray stockings, and a brown tricorn hat and shoes. His feet protrude from one side of the pitcher, and the corner of his hat forms the pouring spout. In his left hand, he is holding up a long sheet of paper with pseudo-Judaic looking text engraved on it. The interior and the bottom of the pitcher are white. Impressed on the bottom is a four-digit model number above the manufacturer’s information stamped in black ink. There are traces of a paper sticker on the underside.
    overall: Height: 6.250 inches (15.875 cm) | Width: 6.000 inches (15.24 cm) | Depth: 5.000 inches (12.7 cm)
    overall : ceramic, glaze, ink, paper, adhesive

    Rights & Restrictions

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

    Keywords & Subjects

    Geographic Name
    Staffordshire (England)

    Administrative Notes

    The pitcher 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:
    2024-02-21 07:11:15
    This page:

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