Prurient Prudes at Work

Collection

"Topics of the Times" column from the New York Times concerning Anthony Comstock's demand that September Morn be removed from a New York City store window.

A manifestation of morbidity which the charitably scientific would characterize as a true pathological psychosis, the users of less kindly terms as what is to be expected from the ignorant and the vicious, is the reported effort in several cities of the Middle West to prevent, and if possible punish, the public exhibition of "September Morning," a picture by CHABAS.

This picture, though a "nude," happens to be as delicate and innocent as it is beautiful, and while there is no denying the existence of people to whom its only appeal would not be commendable, even these people cannot be hurt by it, since they are beyond further injury either to their morals or their manners. To intelligence cultivated, or even capable of being cultivated, into appreciation of beauty, no thought of questioning the artist's intention or inspiration would ever arise.

No moralist except those who would banish entirely the undraped figure from art can condemn this painting, and such banishment, of course, is honestly considered in any way desirable or expedient only by moralists who are, from the standpoint of aesthetics, in a complete state of barbarism. Of these there can be few anywhere nowadays. The great majority of those who find fault with "September Morning" are really exploiting as modesty what is in reality prurience, and the revelation by which they should be shocked is that so clearly made of their own lack of sense and decency.

Of some worthily famous pictures it is necessary, or at least permissible, to admit that they are ill-placed or misplaced elsewhere than as part of a considerable collection, public or private, where they are little likely to be seen and misunderstood by the immature and the debased. The Chabas painting is not one of these, as its purity of subject and treatment is obvious to all who ever had—and have no lost—the power to recognize that quality in a picture.

Dublin Core

Title

Prurient Prudes at Work

Subject

September Morn
Anthony Comstock
censorship

Description

"Topics of the Times" column from the New York Times concerning Anthony Comstock's demand that September Morn be removed from a New York City store window.

Source

May 2, 1913, New York Times

Date

May 2, 1913

Language

en

Contribution Form

Online Submission

No

Newspaper Story Item Type Metadata

Headline

Prurient Prudes as Work

Text

A manifestation of morbidity which the charitably scientific would characterize as a true pathological psychosis, the users of less kindly terms as what is to be expected from the ignorant and the vicious, is the reported effort in several cities of the Middle West to prevent, and if possible punish, the public exhibition of "September Morning," a picture by CHABAS.

This picture, though a "nude," happens to be as delicate and innocent as it is beautiful, and while there is no denying the existence of people to whom its only appeal would not be commendable, even these people cannot be hurt by it, since they are beyond further injury either to their morals or their manners. To intelligence cultivated, or even capable of being cultivated, into appreciation of beauty, no thought of questioning the artist's intention or inspiration would ever arise.

No moralist except those who would banish entirely the undraped figure from art can condemn this painting, and such banishment, of course, is honestly considered in any way desirable or expedient only by moralists who are, from the standpoint of aesthetics, in a complete state of barbarism. Of these there can be few anywhere nowadays. The great majority of those who find fault with "September Morning" are really exploiting as modesty what is in reality prurience, and the revelation by which they should be shocked is that so clearly made of their own lack of sense and decency.

Of some worthily famous pictures it is necessary, or at least permissible, to admit that they are ill-placed or misplaced elsewhere than as part of a considerable collection, public or private, where they are little likely to be seen and misunderstood by the immature and the debased. The Chabas painting is not one of these, as its purity of subject and treatment is obvious to all who ever had—and have no lost—the power to recognize that quality in a picture.

Publication Date

1913-05-02

Newspaper Info

New York Times, pg. 10

Citation

"Prurient Prudes at Work," in September Morn Archive, Item #33, http://septembermorn.org/items/show/33 (accessed June 29, 2017).