Portrait of Isaac Jacob Gans

Unknown Artist/Makerc. 1790

The Jewish Museum, New York

The Jewish Museum, New York
New York, United States

Isaac Jacob Gans (d. 1798), who stemmed from a family that arrived in Celle toward the end of the seventeenth century and that became one of its ten protected Jewish families (Schutzjuden), is depicted in traditional dress. Wearing a type of fur hat that was common in eastern Europe but that had gone out of favor among German Jews except among rabbis, Isaac brings together two worlds: that of a court agent and that of a traditional Jew.

Gans, who accumulated a large fortune in the tobacco industry, was appointed court agent in 1772. During the early 1770s, he became known at the court of Hannover for his efforts on behalf of the needy and sick in Celle. Gans also contributed to the erection of several local buildings and guaranteed their care after his death in his will. He was, however, most devoted to Jewish communal life and, as his will testifies, granted large sums of money for the perpetual upkeep of the synagogue and religious study.


  • Title: Portrait of Isaac Jacob Gans
  • Creator: Unknown Artist/Maker
  • Date Created: c. 1790
  • Location: Celle, Germany, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 17 3/4 × 14 1/16 in. (45 × 35.7 cm)
  • Provenance: ?Fredche Gans, daughter of Isaac Jacob Gans (after 1798); her son, ?Jacob Ephraim Dufresne (before 1836); ?his daughter, Cecilie Ephraim Dufresne (after 1936-d. 1913); her grandson, Rudolf Wittkower (after 1913-d. 1975); his wife Margot Wittkower, New York, NY (until 1992)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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