Anthony Comstock's Morals Versus Art

Anthony Comstock published the slim pamphlet Morals Versus Art in 1887 as a defense of the raid on Knoedler's Art Gallery in New York City. An agent of Comstock's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice purchased "117 photographs of original paintings by such artists as Cabanel, Bougereau, Gerome, Le Fevre, Henner, and others of the modern French school." The clerk who sold the pictures and Edmund L. Knoedler were then arrested on charges of "trafficking in improper pictures."

In the weeks after this arrest, Comstock became the object of criticism throughout the mainstream press. The New York Times reports that "T. J. Blakeslee and several other art critics gave like expression to their views upon the subject. The general declaration was the Anthony Comstock had exercised an uncultivated and awkward discrimination and had committed and unwarrantable assault upon the domain of legitimate art."

Comstock published this brief pamphlet as a defense of this arrest and of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice more generally.

Although published more than a quarter century before the appearance of September Morn in the United States, the pamphlet uncannily anticipates many of the same issues and offers valuable insight into Comstock's thinking about art, the nude, and morality.

Works Cited

  • “Mr. Comstock’s Work: Beginning a Prosecution Against a Prominent Art Firm.” New York Times. Nov. 13, 1887: 3. Proquest Historical Newspapers New York Times (1857 – 1922). Web.

Dublin Core

Title

Anthony Comstock's Morals Versus Art
Morals Versus Art: An Electronic Edition

Description

Anthony Comstock published the slim pamphlet Morals Versus Art in 1887 as a defense of the raid on Knoedler's Art Gallery in New York City. An agent of Comstock's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice purchased "117 photographs of original paintings by such artists as Cabanel, Bougereau, Gerome, Le Fevre, Henner, and others of the modern French school." The clerk who sold the pictures and Edmund L. Knoedler were then arrested on charges of "trafficking in improper pictures."

In the weeks after this arrest, Comstock became the object of criticism throughout the mainstream press. The New York Times reports that "T. J. Blakeslee and several other art critics gave like expression to their views upon the subject. The general declaration was the Anthony Comstock had exercised an uncultivated and awkward discrimination and had committed and unwarrantable assault upon the domain of legitimate art."

Comstock published this brief pamphlet as a defense of this arrest and of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice more generally.

Although published more than a quarter century before the appearance of September Morn in the United States, the pamphlet uncannily anticipates many of the same issues and offers valuable insight into Comstock's thinking about art, the nude, and morality.

Works Cited

  • “Mr. Comstock’s Work: Beginning a Prosecution Against a Prominent Art Firm.” New York Times. Nov. 13, 1887: 3. Proquest Historical Newspapers New York Times (1857 – 1922). Web.

Creator

Comstock, Anthony (1844 - 1915)

Publisher

J.S. Ogilvie

Date

1887

Contributor

Chris Forster, editor

Rights

Creative Commons Attribute ShareAlike 3.0

Language

en

Contribution Form

Document Item Type Metadata

Citation

Comstock, Anthony (1844 - 1915), "Anthony Comstock's Morals Versus Art," in September Morn Archive, Item #80, http://septembermorn.org/items/show/80 (accessed March 30, 2017).