National Gallery removes ‘anti-Semitic’ portrait from website ahead of exhibition

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The National Gallery has removed a photo of an artwork from an upcoming major exhibition from its website because of its anti-Semitic portrayal of Jews.

Christ among the Doctors of Albrecht Dürer from 1509 portrays a Luke gospel story of Jesus on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover, alongside an anti-Semitic caricature of Jewish men in the synagogue.

The National Gallery had initially displayed the work of art prominently on its website advertising the upcoming exhibition without mentioning its “offensive” portrayal of Jews.

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After the gallery was alerted to the fact by Jewish News reader Ralph Harris, he deleted the photo online and highlighted the anti-Semitic portrayal in his gallery.

A spokesperson said: “We are aware that the depiction of doctors can be offensive and the wall texts and audio guide in the exhibition will recognize and address the caricature and anti-Semitic portrayal in the painting.

“We removed the image and accompanying text from our online gallery of selected works on display, as we felt that in this format there was not enough space for the interpretation required for this work. . “

He had previously committed to reviewing all texts relating to Dürer’s works in his exhibition, while stating: “We are constantly monitoring our texts both online and in the gallery regarding images from our temporary exhibitions and our website. permanent collection. “

Art Quarterly magazine, which featured the image in its Spring 2021 issue without mentioning its anti-Semitic background, also pledged to do “further text and image verification in the future.”

Respond to the reader’s complaint in an email seen by Jewish News, Editor-in-Chief Helen Sumpter said: ‘I appreciate your bringing this to our attention, we are very much aware that historic works of art can exemplify values ​​and views that are unacceptable today. hui, and always aim to provide relevant context. “

According to the gospel story, The Discovery in the Temple, depicted in the painting, Jesus “lingers” in the temple, while Mary and Joseph return home, only to find him three days later engaged in a discussion with the elders.

The National Gallery exhibition, Les Voyages de Dürer: Voyages of a Renaissance Artist, will take place from November 20 to February 27, 2022.

This is the first major exhibition of Dürer’s work in the UK in nearly two decades.


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