Jessica

In Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, Jessica is the daughter of Shylock, a Jew who lends money to a Christian merchant, Antonio. The plot thickens when Antonio fails to repay Shylock, and the moneylender is ruined. This drama may have appealed to Moses Ezekiel because of its sympathetic portrayal of Jews. As an American Jew living in Italy, Ezekiel may have identified with Shylock, who was forbidden citizenship in Venice because of his faith. Ezekiel’s Jessica turns her head as if to say, I am never merry when I hear sweet music,” a line from the play that the sculptor inscribed on the base of the bust.

Title
Jessica
Artist
Date
1880
Location
Dimensions
29 5816 3816 12 in. (75.341.641.9 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase made possible by Jack and Marjorie Rachlin

Mediums
Mediums Description
marble
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure female – bust
Object Number
1994.60
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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