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Known/Unknown: Unseen Portraits from the Collection

11 December 2017 - 25 February 2018

Known/Unknown in Jewish Museum’s Welcome Gallery presents a selection of previously unseen portraits from the museum’s diverse collection, illustrating the fascinating stories of Britain’s Jews from the past 250 years, ranging from rabbis and community leaders to actors and anarchists.

The display will showcase around 35 portraits of British Jews from the 1700s to the late 1900s, including oil paintings, prints, drawings and lockets. It encompasses images of men, women and children, some famous and other unknown. While some of these subjects commissioned their own portraits, for a range of purposes, other images may in fact have been taken without the subject’s permission.

The exhibition illustrates how image production, through painting, printing and drawing techniques, has evolved over the centuries, allowing audiences to explore the multiple and changing ways in which artists have tried to shape and convey a person’s life and character through portraiture.

As well as celebrating the lives of its subjects, the display will challenge viewers to compare how people have presented themselves in images through history with today’s age of the selfie, in which filters and editing tools on smartphones and computers give people a huge amount of control over how their image is presented. Visitors will even be invited to produce their own self-portraits at the museum.

A lively programme of events at Jewish Museum accompanies the exhibition:

Wednesday, 3 January, 3pm

‘Lost boys: the children of the Hayes Industrial School’

A brief history of the London institution that educated and trained young Jewish delinquents in the early 1900s.

Monday, 15 January, 3pm

‘Caroline Lucretia Herschel: housekeeper and astronomer’

The unusual story of a woman who was denied an education and become a professional singer and a respected astronomer

Wednesday, 31 January, 3pm

'Yiddish theatre land: Etta Topel at the Grand Palais’

The impact of Etta Topel and her husband Mark Markov on Yiddish Theatre in London during the Second World War

Monday, 12 February, 3pm

‘The rabbi as icon: rabbinical portraits’

A short history of rabbinical portraits, why they are so popular and how they have changed over time

For further information or images please contact:

+44 (0) 207 343 8180



Twitter: @jewishmuseumLDN

Instagram: @jewishmuseumLDN


Address: Jewish Museum London

Raymond Burton House

129 – 131 Albert Street

London NW1 7NB

Tube: Camden Town

Opening Times: Daily 10am – 5pm (Friday: 10am – 2pm)

Museum admission (includes entry to exhibition and all permanent displays)

Adults - £8.50*

Concessions - £6.50*

Children (5-16) - £3.50

Under 5s – free

Family ticket (two adults and up to four children) - £18

  • Includes £1 voluntary donation


About Jewish Museum London

Our mission at the Jewish Museum London is to surprise, delight and engage all people, irrespective of background and faith, in the history, identity and culture of Jews in Britain. Our exhibitions, events and learning programmes encourage a sense of discovery and aim to provoke questions, challenge prejudice, and encourage understanding.

Friday 22nd December, 2017

Press & filming

For press enquiries please contact: David Lasserson, Brunswick Arts on +44 (0)20 7936 1290