Royal Doulton Shakespeare seriesware with Shylock presenting his contract

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2016.184.19
Level of Description
  • English
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

overall: | Depth: 1.000 inches (2.54 cm) | Diameter: 9.500 inches (24.13 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

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.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions on access

Conditions Governing Reproduction

No restrictions on use

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Circular, gradient yellow painted dinner plate with an image of an older Jewish man with a long gray beard, large nose, and black skull cap, standing and addressing an unseen audience. The name "Shylock" is painted near his feet. He is dressed in a purple, ermine trimmed robe over a green gown. His left hand holds a curved blade with which he gestures at a long white paper in his right hand. The figure is painted over a brown sepia backstamp of an ornate Italian Renaissance style loggia and chair beneath a wooden canopy. The popular seriesware was designed to be both beautiful and practical, and literary characters were the inspiration for several lines. There were two versions of the Shylock figure on plates with different backstamps. The depiction of Shylock on this plate stands upright and is from the 1920s series.



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.