4: Toleration is not equality: the readmission of Jews to England
Address: On the wide expanse of pavement by the City and County of London Troops War Memorial, in front of the Royal Exchange, EC3V 3LR.
Directions from the previous stop: Head south down Old Jewry, passing Frederick’s Place on your right. Turn left at Poultry, and walk east to the large five-way junction. Keep on the left, northernmost pavement, then cross Princes Street to Threadneedle Street. Cross Threadneedle Street immediately, so that you are right underneath the statue of the Duke of Wellington. There are a couple of benches where you can sit down, just before the memorial to ‘London Troops’.
Portrait thought to be Manasseh Ben Israel, by Govert Flinck, 1637
Govert Flinck was a successful and well-connected painter of the Dutch Golden Age, and his work ranges from contemporary portraiture to landscapes, Biblical scenes and history painting. This painting in particular though, has a darker history: it was owned in the 19th century by the noble Mniszech family of Vyshnivets which was then Polish territory and is now in Ukraine. After passing through various hands in Paris, the painting was auctioned at the Frederik Muller auction house in Amsterdam. As a site concerned with the paper trail of art ownership in the Netherlands states, “The provenance details are inconclusive. It is unknown who submitted the painting to the Frederik Muller auction.” The purchaser though, was the art house formerly named after its owner, Amsterdam Jewish art dealer, Jacques Goudstikker. By 1943, Goudstikker was dead, having fallen badly on board one of the last ships to leave the Netherlands for England in May 1940. Goudstikker’s assets, staff and the house that bore his name were now named after a Munich banker operating on behalf of Herman Göring yeshu. On this occasion, Wikimedia states that the painting in question was bought for the planned Führermuseum in Linz, Austria. After the war, the painting was transferred to what is now the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed in the Netherlands (a heritage organisation) and is today owned by the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, in The Hague.
The interrogation of Gaspar Lopes by the Milan Inquisition of 1540, quoted in Lucien Wolf, ‘Jews in Tudor England’, p81, in Essays in Jewish History (1934)
“Further interrogated he [Gaspar Lopes] said that he knew Alves Lopes in London in whose house he, the deponent, lived for four or five days; and that he, Alves Lopes, holds a Synagogue in his house and lives in the Hebrew manner, though in secret; and that he, the deponent, saw these things and that in this Synagogue they went on one day only, the Sabbath; and that on that day there came to Alves’s house other false Christians to the number of about twenty; and that it is true that whenever any refugee false Christians come from Portugal to go to England and Flanders and hence to Turkey or elsewhere, in order to lead the lives of Hebrews, they come to the house of the said Alves, who helps them to go whither they want to go for this purpose.”