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Royal Doulton Shakespeare seriesware with Shylock presenting his contract

Object | Accession Number: 2016.184.19

Royal Doulton dinner plate depicting Shylock from the Shakespeare play The Merchant of Venice. Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who demands that his contract for a pound of flesh, owed by a youth who failed to repay a loan, be paid in full. First published in 1600 in England, Shylock's characteristics were based upon long standing stereotypes still popular in a country where Jews had been expelled since 1290, 300 years. Although some scenes make him sympathetic, and show how society and his Christian enemies cruelly mistreat him, he is punished and forced to convert. The play was extremely popular in Nazi Germany, with fifty productions from 1933-1945. Despite the stereotypical and anti-Jewish elements, the play continues to spark debates over whether it must be considered antisemitic. The Royal Doulton Shakespeare seriesware was introduced in England in 1912, and produced into the early 1930s. The character is portrayed with recognizably Jewish features, a skull cap, sidecurls, and large nose, similar to 19th century stage performers. This plate is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

approximately 1920  (creation)
creation : Great Britain
Household Utensils
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of the Katz Family
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Record last modified: 2018-10-24 14:08:11
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