Museum Removes 19th Century Painting to ‘Prompt Conversation’

An art gallery in Manchester, England has taken down a painting that features naked women, ostensibly to spark discussion amid the #MeToo movement. Critics say it’s simply censorship.

On Friday, the Manchester Art Gallery announced it would be temporarily removing a painting from the 1890s in order to “prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artwork” during a time when several sexual harassment scandals are in the headlines.

“The gallery exists in a world full of intertwined issues of gender, race, sexuality and class which affect us all. How could artworks speak in more contemporary, relevant ways?” the gallery’s statement reads.

John William Waterhouse’s 1896 painting Hylas and the Nymphs depicts a scene from Greek Mythology where Nomia, a water nymph, lures Hylas, one of Heracles’ companions, to his watery grave. The seven mythical creatures in the painting are all shown as naked women.

The painting used to hang in a room called “In Pursuit of Beauty,” which features paintings of beautiful women, some of whom are represented without any clothing.

“This gallery presents the female body as either a ‘passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme fatale’. Let’s…

Read more