Censorship of Pictures

Collection

A letter to the editor of the New York Times, dated May 14, 1913, from Arthur F. Rice, President of the Campbell Art Company.

To the editor of The New York Times:

The people at large as well as the critics and pronts of art are naturally interested in the recent action of Mr. Anthony Comstock in ordering removed from a New York dealer's window a copy of Paul Chabas's beautiful picture, "September Morning."

The same thing recently occurred in Chicago where the Police Censor ordered Jackson & Semmelmeyer to remove one of the reproductions of this picture from their window. THe firm refused to obey and a lawsuit followed, in which, by a unanimous vote, the jury declared the picture not only artistic in the highest sense of that term, but also perfectly proper for public display.

No sensible person objects to a proper censorship of pictures, but both the publishers and the public would like to know just where Mr. Comstock's authority begins and ceases. Our customers have often complaiend that he has insisted upon the removal from view of copies of pictures, the originals of which hang to-day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the present subject of discussion is the picture which received the gold medal, the highest possible award, at the Paris Salon, in 1912. There must be some point where Mr. Comstock's personal opinion would touch the region of absurdity, and it looks as if this had been reached in the present case of Paul Chabas's beautiful creation.

As publishers of this picture, and with a reputation to sustain before the public, we hope to see a legal test made now of Mr. Comstock's omniscience in these matters.

Many pictures generally considered harmless, illustrate and convey a meaning that is absolutely immoral, while certian half-veiled figures may do a thousandfold more moral damage than the full exposure of God-given beauty modestly posed. The lack of mystery disarms the devil, and the wisest conservator of public morals is he who fully understands those things and has intelligent convictions regarding them.

ARTHUR F. RICE,
President Campbell Art Company.
New York, May 13, 1913.

Dublin Core

Title

Censorship of Pictures

Subject

September Morn
Anthony Comstock
censorship

Description

A letter to the editor of the New York Times, dated May 14, 1913, from Arthur F. Rice, President of the Campbell Art Company.

Creator

Arthur F. Rice

Source

May 14, 1913, New York Times

Date

May 14, 1913

Language

en

Contribution Form

Online Submission

No

Newspaper Story Item Type Metadata

Headline

CENSORSHIP OF PICTURES
Publishers of "September Morning" Criticise Mr. Comstock

Text

To the editor of The New York Times:

The people at large as well as the critics and pronts of art are naturally interested in the recent action of Mr. Anthony Comstock in ordering removed from a New York dealer's window a copy of Paul Chabas's beautiful picture, "September Morning."

The same thing recently occurred in Chicago where the Police Censor ordered Jackson & Semmelmeyer to remove one of the reproductions of this picture from their window. THe firm refused to obey and a lawsuit followed, in which, by a unanimous vote, the jury declared the picture not only artistic in the highest sense of that term, but also perfectly proper for public display.

No sensible person objects to a proper censorship of pictures, but both the publishers and the public would like to know just where Mr. Comstock's authority begins and ceases. Our customers have often complaiend that he has insisted upon the removal from view of copies of pictures, the originals of which hang to-day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the present subject of discussion is the picture which received the gold medal, the highest possible award, at the Paris Salon, in 1912. There must be some point where Mr. Comstock's personal opinion would touch the region of absurdity, and it looks as if this had been reached in the present case of Paul Chabas's beautiful creation.

As publishers of this picture, and with a reputation to sustain before the public, we hope to see a legal test made now of Mr. Comstock's omniscience in these matters.

Many pictures generally considered harmless, illustrate and convey a meaning that is absolutely immoral, while certian half-veiled figures may do a thousandfold more moral damage than the full exposure of God-given beauty modestly posed. The lack of mystery disarms the devil, and the wisest conservator of public morals is he who fully understands those things and has intelligent convictions regarding them.

ARTHUR F. RICE,
President Campbell Art Company.
New York, May 13, 1913.

Publication Date

1913-05-14

Author

Arthur F. Rice

Newspaper Info

New York Times, Letter to the Editor, pg. 10

Citation

Arthur F. Rice, "Censorship of Pictures," in September Morn Archive, Item #34, http://septembermorn.org/items/show/34 (accessed June 29, 2017).