Victorian art too racy for today’s feminists? Gallery removes painting of naked young nymphs

Costumes depicting female genitalia and pink p**sy hats are all the rage with modern feminists, but topless nymphs featured in Victorian art crosses the line.

Two Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery workers hang John Williams Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott before an exhibition of Victorian paintings at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham. (Photo by Rui Vieira/PA Images via Getty Images)

Christina Sommers calls herself a “factual feminist” and slammed the Manchester Art Gallery for pulling a John William Waterhouse painting in the name of the #MeToo movement.

Somers claimed art director Clare Gannaway’s excuse to temporarily remove the painting in order to prompt “discussion” was hogwash. “Wrong. Fanaticism drove the decision,” Sommers wrote.

The Watherhouse piece titled Hylas and the Nymphs, features beautiful nymph’s tempting a young man to his doom, and was taken down on Friday so that museum guests could respond using Post-it notes, the Guardian reported.

“It wasn’t about denying the existence of particular artworks,” Gannaway told the Guardian. But, Gannaway also said she did not approve of the painting’s title, and doesn’t appreciate that naked women are presented as “passive decorative art,” according to the Guardian. Post cards of the painting were also pulled from the museum’s gift shop.

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Gannaway said her decision to remove the painting was inspired by the #MeToo and #Time’sUp movements that emerged after widespread sexual harassment claims against celebrity and political power players came to light.

“For me personally, there is a sense of embarrassment that we haven’t dealt with it sooner,” Gannaway said of the Waterhouse painting that used to don the walls of a room called In Pursuit of Beauty. According to the Guardian the room “contains late 19th century paintings showing lots of female flesh.”

“Our attention has been elsewhere … we’ve collectively forgotten to look at this space and think about it properly. We want to do something about it now because we have forgotten about it for so long.”

Artist Michael Browne attended the event where museum guests were encouraged to discuss the painting’s removal.

“I don’t like the replacement and removal of art and being told ‘that’s wrong and this is right’. They are using their power to veto art in a public collection,” Browne said. He also worried that the art might never be brought back to walls of the museum.

Gannaway said not to worry, the painting will likely return as long as the art directors can properly interpret if for the public through their politically correct prism.

“We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualized quite differently,” Gannaway said. “It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the gallery.”

Gannaway certainly brought attention to the art with her move, and Somers kept the pressure on which sparked reactions on social media:

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