Porcelain figure of Shylock, richly dressed and carrying a dagger

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2016.184.13
1 Jan 1800 - 31 Dec 1899
Level of Description
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

overall: Height: 4.250 inches (10.795 cm) | Width: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm) | Depth: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm)


Biographical History

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.

Archival History

The figurine was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2016 by the Katz Family.


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of 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.

Scope and Content

Colorful, 19th century, English porcelain figurine of Shylock, the antagonist from Shakespeare's play, The Merchant of Venice. He has a large nose, side curls, and a long 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 figurine is one of more than 900 items in the Katz Ehrenthal Collection of antisemitic artifacts and visual materials.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access

Conditions Governing Reproduction

No restrictions on use

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

White porcelain figurine of a man wearing a floor-length red tunic and blue robe with light blue cuffs, and a black hat. A wide yellow sash is tied around his waist and a light blue money pouch hangs from his waist on a long, tasseled cord. He has a large nose, curly sidelocks, and a long beard. His left hand clasps a gold-colored, sheathed dagger and his eyes are furtively glancing to the left in a sidelong manner. He stands upon a square pedestal with a gold-colored line along the top edge and “Shylock” painted in gold-colored cursive across the front. A small gold-colored anchor is painted on the back of the pedestal. There is a small, neat hole in the lower section on the back of the figure’s robe. The underside of the pedestal is slightly concave and the edge is discolored from use with a small loss on the left edge.




This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.