This independent study is an anthropological and art historical analysis of a series of portraits by Franciszek Jaźwiecki and Felix Nussbaum, two artists who created during the Holocaust, and the display of their artworks, and others from that time period, in museums. I explore these topics through an array of methods, including ethnographic interviews of museum staff at various relevant institutions (i.e., the Yad Vashem), as well as formal analysis and social history. Utilizing Lila Abu-Lughod’s (1991) ethnographies of the particular, Saba Mahmood’s (2006) theory of agency, Jane K. Nielsen’s (2017) writings on museum communication, and Susan A. Crane’s (2006) framework on museums and memory, my independent study interrogates how art and museums act as purveyors of stories. While the portraits by Jaźwiecki and Nussbaum, and the museums that display them, occupy two different sections of Holocaust studies, I unite them in this independent study through the articulation of key themes that play out in both spheres. I seek to bring together discussions on museums and portraiture of the Holocaust through intersecting themes of agency, identity, and commemoration/permanence.


Derderian, Beth

Second Advisor

Siewert, John


Art and Art History; Sociology and Anthropology


European History | Holocaust and Genocide Studies | Modern Art and Architecture | Other Anthropology | Other History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social History


Holocaust, art, portraits, museums, museum anthropology, anthropology, art history, Felix Nussbaum, Holocaust museums, art museums, Franciszek Jaźwiecki, exile, concentration camps, Nazis, SS, testimonies, witness

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2021 Marloes Krabbe