Adams scalloped soup bowl with Portia in court with Shylock

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2016.184.16
Level of Description
  • English
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

overall: Height: 6.250 inches (15.875 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 plate 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

William Adams and Sons soup bowl with a scalloped rim with a colorful illustration of Portia and Shylock in the courtroom scene from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Shylock is a Jewish moneylender who demands that his contract for a pound of flesh, owed him by a youth who failed to repay 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 300 years, since 1290. 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. This bowl 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

Colorful, earthenware soup bowl with a scalloped rim. The shallow bowl has a grayscale courtroom scene with a few brightly colored highlights. In the center, a young man, Portia in disguise, wearing a dark red cloak, holds a contract and confronts an old man, who backs away in shock. The old man has Jewish features: a skullcap, a long beard and side curls, and a long, curved nose. He holds a dagger in his right hand and a scale in his left hand. Figures fill the back ground; on the left, a man in a blue cloak points an accusing finger at the old man; on the right, a man in a green cloak watches from behind a railing. In the center background, a man in legal robes watches from a raised platform flanked by gold columns. A ring of small white beads frames the image, and along the side is a white band. The rim has an intricate pattern: a black and white rectangled border, a narrow orange band, a wide center band with a light brown and black repeating frieze with cornucopia and Roman vases, another orange band and beaded circle, and an orange scalloped edge.

front, center, in white band, black paint : Portia pleads with Shylock



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.