Manchester Art Gallery

Presenting the female body: Challenging a Victorian fantasy

A barometer of public taste

8 February 2018

Following a fantastic response to its seven day absence – both at the gallery itself and on-line – Waterhouse’s masterpiece Hylas and the Nymphs returned to public display at Manchester Art Gallery over the weekend.

The painting – part of the gallery’s highly prized collection of Pre-Raphaelite works – was temporarily removed from display as part of a project the gallery is working on with the artist Sonia Boyce, in the build-up to a solo exhibition of her work at the gallery opening on 23 March 2018. Boyce’s work is all about bringing people together in different situations to see what happens. The painting’s short term removal from public view was the result of a ‘take-over’ of some of the gallery’s public spaces by a wide range of gallery users and artists on Friday January 26th.

The event was conceived by Boyce to bring different meanings and interpretations of paintings from the gallery’s collection into focus, and into life. The evening included a series of performances, all filmed by Boyce’s team, addressing issues of race, gender, and sexuality, culminating in the careful, temporary removal of the Waterhouse painting. In its place, notices were put up inviting responses to this action that would inform how the painting would be shown and contextualized when it was rehung. In the course of this last week the space where the painting was has become filled with post-it notes from individuals wanting to contribute to the discussion.

Hylas was chosen because the painting has been a barometer of public taste since it was painted in 1896 and continues to be so.

Since its removal, the painting and its temporary absence from the gallery has captured the attention of thousands of people not just in Manchester but everywhere, and in so doing has opened up a wider global debate about representation in art and how works of art are interpreted and displayed.

There has been an incredible response over the last week – it’s encouraging to see that so many people care so much about our historic collection, and about Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs in particular, and we want to thank people for taking the time to respond.

Given the sheer volume and breadth of discussion that has been sparked by the act of removing the painting, the gallery is now planning a series of public and live streamed events to encourage further debate about these wider issues, and is looking forward to welcoming people to these, and hearing what they have to say.

The first of these events will be a chaired panel debate, inviting speakers with a broad spectrum of opinions to discuss the issues raised. More details about this event will be released shortly. To register your interest in attending the debate please contact us here:


Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece back on public display after its temporary removal

3 February 2018

Well, there’s no denying it’s been an interesting week. We anticipated a heated debate but were amazed by the huge response to the temporary removal of Waterhouse’s Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece. As of this morning, following seven days in our art store, this important painting is back on display.

The comments section on this post has received well over 700 posts, we’re working through them and all aside from the merely abusive will be published. Please feel free to continue the debate here, we genuinely value your input.

Thank you.

The full press release is copied below.

Press release

Following a fantastic response to its temporary removal – both at the gallery itself and on-line – Waterhouse’s Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece Hylas and the Nymphs will be back on public display at Manchester Art Gallery from tomorrow, Saturday 3 February.

The painting – part of the gallery’s highly prized collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings – was temporarily removed from display as part of a project the gallery is working on with the contemporary artist Sonia Boyce, in the build-up to a solo exhibition of her work at the gallery opening on 23 March 2018.

Boyce’s artwork is all about bringing people together in different situations to see what happens. The painting’s short term removal from public view was the result of a ‘take-over’ of some of the gallery’s public spaces by gallery users and performance artists last Friday January 26th.

Since its filmed removal as part of the Boyce project a week ago, the painting and its temporary absence from the gallery has captured the attention of people everywhere, and in so doing has opened up a wider global debate about representation in art and how works of art are interpreted and displayed.

Given the sheer volume and breadth of discussion that has been sparked by the act of removing the painting, the gallery is now planning a series of public events to encourage further debate about these wider issues.

Amanda Wallace, Interim Director Manchester Art Gallery, said: “We’ve been inundated with responses to our temporary removal of Hylas and the Nymphs as part of the forthcoming Sonia Boyce exhibition, and it’s been amazing to see the depth and range of feelings expressed.

“The painting is rightly acknowledged as one of the highlights of our Pre-Raphaelite collection, and over the years has been enjoyed by millions of visitors to the gallery.

“We were hoping the experiment would stimulate discussion, and it’s fair to say we’ve had that in spades – and not just from local people but from art-lovers around the world.

“Throughout the painting’s seven day absence, it’s been clear that many people feel very strongly about the issues raised, and we now plan to harness this strength of feeling for some further debate on these wider issues.”



We have left a temporary space in Gallery 10 in place of Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse to prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection.

How can we talk about the collection in ways which are relevant in the 21st century?

Here are some of the ideas we have been talking about so far. What do you think?

This gallery presents the female body as either a ‘passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme fatale’. Let’s challenge this Victorian fantasy!

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?

What other stories could these artworks and their characters tell? What other themes would be interesting to explore in the gallery?

The act of taking down this painting was part of a group gallery takeover that took place during the evening of 26 January 2018. People from the gallery team and people associated with the gallery took part. The takeover was filmed and is part of an exhibition by Sonia Boyce, 23 March to 2 September 2018.

To be continued…

Get involved in the conversation

Add your thoughts using #MAGSoniaBoyce.

927 responses to “Presenting the female body: Challenging a Victorian fantasy”

  1. Kenni Lowe says:

    I accept there are more works in the collection than space to display. I am worried we don’t start to only display “acceptable”.

  2. Michael Browne says:

    A dangerous precedent is set for other artworks. The emergence of P.C. censorship, blurred into Law. Deciding what history to hide, and what people should know, and what artist’s can create. Even games have rules, of exclusion and inclusion.

  3. Joan Davies says:

    Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse is a fascinating work, with depth. It promotes questions among a modern audience, not least of which is how it was viewed by its contemporary audience, and even who were its contemporary audiences. Were galleries welcoming to women? Could women be seen to be viewing these images and what was their effect on women artists and women in general? The parallels between the presentation of young almost identical women with idealised bodies and today’s debate about catwalk models and the impact on self-image are clear too. But I’ve discussed these issues in the past, prompted in part by viewing this particular painting. I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to debate this off-line, at an open event.

    • Claire says:

      The role of art is most definitely NOT to ‘ encourage debate ‘. The role of art is to BE there for all to see and wonder at. It is the human expression of finding meaning in the world at it’s finest and most powerful. It may cause debate or it may not , it really does’nt matter.

      • whyIOughta says:

        The idea that a work of art can just BE, is an appealing one. That somehow whatever the age, background, education, religion or class of the viewer, all that could ever be said about the work would be self evident in the very thing itself, borne free through the ether from the material self of the work to the mind of the viewer who apprehends it in ‘wonder’. But that is not how it happens. No art exists outside of context, the context of its production, of its acquisition, of its history of display and of where it is displayed now, at the moment of apprehension by the viewer. And each of these contexts can be further examined – who was the curator who oversaw the purchase, what was their relationship to the artist, what had they bought before and what else would they eventually buy, where did the money come from, how was payment made, were there any conditions that the artist insisted upon. And each of these could be further examined, and so on. Is all of this evidenced in the very thing itself, as it stands or hangs in front of the viewer?

        And, as is the case in the work discussed here, that apprehension occurs in a gallery. You think that the very order of what you see in a gallery hasn’t already, to some extent been pre-censored for you? Of all the countless choices that could be made, the curators made these ones. And they made them in a building expressly designed to show you those choices, this building, with this history, with this collection, not that one. Choices. The idea that these works just arrive, as if by magic onto walls in some kind of meaningful order is a mistake. Curation is, by necessity, an ongoing work of making choices which inevitably mean that this gets shown, that does not. If everything was hauled from the stores and piled high on the walls would you be as happy with the result?

        The idea that meaning is somehow just ‘there’ for the viewer to find is questionable. Since 1933 Eric Gill’s statue of Prospero and Ariel has stood high over the entrance to New Broadcasting House, the home of the BBC. Charming and touching, it catches the moment when Prospero sends Ariel, the spirit of the air, out into the world. Countless people have looked up and enjoyed this work. In 1989, Fiona McCarthy published her biography of Gill in which she revealed the dark side to his character, including his incestuous relationship with his daughters. Is this fact evident in the work? Does knowing it change how one views the work? Is there one answer to this?

        If I look at a painting and enjoy it as a thing in itself, as a piece of canvas around a stretcher in a frame on a wall, onto which at some time in the past an artist pushed paint around either in the presence of what was being painted or responded to or in its absence, is my enjoyment hindered or enhanced by a label which tells me that this work depicts a mythological scene in which a gay lover of Heracles, sent to fetch water, is confronted by nymphs whose intention is to draw him into the deep? And if I read this and disagree, or agree, isn’t that the start of debate? Might there be yet more to know of this thing, this picture?

        This entire action by the gallery has been hijacked, there is no other word for it, by a contemporary sensibility which is seemingly incapable of negotiated thought. Easily offended by anything that does not fit their world view, a whole species of humanity is developing that thinks it has the right to cry ‘I am offended’, ‘This thing that was done is censorship’, ‘You are cretins/morons/stupid/nazis/taliban/lefty/feminazi… And that is the end of it. What I say is true.’ ‘Look, there are thousands of us saying this, it must be true.’ Having had the time to look at the reactions here and elsewhere, I can say that the gallery looked to have lost control of the message, and that this was a shame. They did not manage to communicate their real love and guardianship of an extraordinary and fine collection and of their wish to continue to present it meaningfully to a contemporary audience. Perhaps it all could have been done differently and they will learn from this.

        But what they did is not censorship. Debate, conversation, negotiation, listening to other ideas and adapting in the light of what can be learned has always been the bedfellow of artistic practice. The actions of the ‘permanently offended’ are more censorious. By cutting out all hope of discourse, they censor reality to suit their world view. If there’s one thing we all need to learn from this, listening is as important as looking.

        • Pp says:

          By ‘permanently offended’ did you include Ms Gannaway? Also which ever way you cut it, the removal of the painting was censorship, end of argument. You can come up with as many clever arguments as you like, censorship is censorship, is censorship. History has shown this always ends in tears.

  4. Geli Berg says:

    I know this move is to promote discussion, but if we impose censorship in the arts, I would find that world truly terrifying. The role of art is to encourage debate.

    • Martin Grimes says:

      We agree, censorship is not the answer. Think of this move as a provocation, let’s see what new thinking we can generate through it. The questions Joan raises above need further exploration if we are to deeply understand what a work like this means, or does, in 2018.

      • Everyone who has ever censored an artistic work has a completely rational reason for doing so. If you want to talk about the piece, do what we do in western democracies: keep it up, invite the public to a talk, make your case.

        Most people of course won’t show up, because most people don’t think in such a black and white way as these activists masquerading as “artists”. So, they know that in order to get people to engage in their “conversation”, they need to start an unnecessary controversy.

        We’re not as divided and confused as you think we are.

      • J Choir says:

        The “takeover” or whatever other euphemism for censorship you prefer is indeed provocative. It provokes the vast number of people who are not activist feminists to say “This has really gone too far now.”

        Unless you are about to unveil some remarkably clever “ta-dah” moment that shows you are not po-faced identity politicians being led by the nose by the more hysterical Guardian opinion writers, you risk a backlash against not only this silly censorship, but also against the underlying cause of respect for women.

        Apologise, reverse this now, and think of a better way to attract attention.

      • Sean says:

        Provocation through censorship. These are water nymphs – not human women. Let’s seek to educate rather than cater to ignorance under the guise of “starting a conversation.”

      • Patricia Fear says:

        “New thinking”… why does it have to be new. Why are you so patronizing to the intelligence of those who stand in front of these paintings, the hint is in the title the word “nymphs” which in itself implies that these are not “real” and as a 67 year old humanist I suggest you jump off the current bandwagon. Such paintings were always explained to my children as “romantics” i.e. not real. Every day is hard for most people in the UK and now you are going to remove romanticism from your museum bit by bit to boost your footfall. Shame on you.

      • Lewis says:

        I think this is a really poor argument! You are playing with censorship just to appease immediatley – and make censorship more acceptable this way. Alt right strategy! Sorry, I’m done with feminism from now on.

      • chris moffatt says:

        Well it is indeed a provocation. An unnecessary one. You could have solicited public comments without removing this excellent art work. The fact that you have removed it indicates that you are fine with censorship. That you are fine with deciding what others may or may not see. As always the answer for those who do not approve of a public display of any kind (be it book, art, music, theater, whatever) is to not read, walk away, do not view, do not attend. Who has the right and the exquisitely good taste to make such decisions for all the rest of us? Not you sir, in my opinion.

        Remember that Beethoven was highly criticised by many in his own time. If the critics had had their way we’d have none of his great work to enjoy in our own time when his music is so highly esteemed.

        Finally; how many complaints did you actually receive about this, or any other work of art? A piffling minority of self-important prudes? Is that all it takes to start the censorship ball rolling. For shame. Put the work back on display and tell those who don’t like it not to look at it.

  5. And I thought po-faced, politically-correct virtue-signalling had exhausted itself by the 1990s. Sure, those paintings represent long-outmoded ways of seeing, but one would have thought that was pretty obvious to anyone looking now, and a good reason to keep them as a lesson from history. Trite PC gestures are an insult to the intelligence of your audience, but more worryingly, this is born out of the same impulse as book burning.

  6. Karl Coppack says:

    I’ve been a member of various photography groups on Facebook where every other image is of a mostly naked woman provocatively posed. I also believe our society can be too ‘old fashioned’ regarding nakedness and it’s unhealthy for us not to see normal body’s whilst we are drip fed images of models, often enhanced using image software. I believe art work like the painting removed from the gallery temporarily tended to show women’s body more naturally and I always felt this was a positive thing compared to a lot of modern images of women.

  7. […] 2018. Presenting the female body: Challenging a Victorian fantasy. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 January […]

  8. John says:

    Instead of trying to ignore history, why not focus on positive portrayal of women (and men) relative to our modern values. Why not use such artists as Sylvia Sleigh (“At the Turkish Baths”) to present an counter-offering?

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      What a fantastic response to this disgusting act of censorship!
      How could the directors of the Manchester Art Gallery allow the removal of one of their most popular paintings just to placate the sensitivities of a small, but highly vocal, minority?
      The only thing that should be removed from the gallery are those responsible for this absurd decision.

      • Josephine says:

        In my opinion, the problem is that the managers of this museum have a gender perspective that prevents them to work in a professional way. Probably, all them should quit the museum and dedicate to what they are prepared for: the censorship. A museum shouldn’t be managed by people that despise art.

  9. Having an art and design background and a career in the fashion industry spanning two decades, I have always had a love for art. From Robert Mapplethorpe at the Hayward Gallery to Yayoi Kusama at the National Gallery in Singapore, I have visited numerous exhibitions around the world where censorship has never been an issue. There have been exhibitions I have liked and some that were questionable.

    Art, at its essence, can be controversial, exposing us to all kinds of debatable questions. It opens us up to new perspectives and enlightens us, regardless of whether we agree with it or not. It is a history lesson to remind us of where we were in terms of thought and how far we have come. Ever since I was introduced to the Pre-Raphaelites, John William Waterhouse has been a favourite of mine. Having lost my husband four years ago to brain cancer, I found solace in three of his works, “Boreas”, “The Lady of Shallot” and “Hylas and the Nymphs”. Waterhouse’s paintings not only express an incredible artistic temperament, but he is a master at emotional storytelling within an ethereal world.

    For years, I have been living in London and thinking how much I would love to see “Hylas and the Nymphs” at least once in my lifetime. Well, I finally got the opportunity to go to the Manchester Art Gallery only to be told the painting was removed on Friday 26th January as some part of feminist installation relating to the representation of the female body. I cannot express how devastated I am, not only to miss out on seeing the painting but to be told that it may never be exhibited again.

    Correct me if I am wrong but do we not live in a liberal and civilised society where the job of the curator is to enlighten, not to impose their own personal beliefs on others and censor art at their will? Why would you impose your own beliefs on others? To morally dictate to others what we can or cannot see? Censorship like this puts you in league with restrictive regimes, both current and historical. Shall we start destroying everything that offends us and end up living in “Fahrenheit 451” or “The Handmaid’s Tale”? We ridicule the past for banning “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and the future will ridicule us for the amount of disrespect we have demonstrated for our history and heritage.

    The removal of “Hylas and the Nymphs” from the Manchester Art Gallery is feminist extremism at its worst and I am truly ashamed to call myself a feminist. I want to ask all of those who supported this reprehensible act of censorship: are we so weak minded as women or insecure about our own femininity to be so easily offended by freedom of artistic expression? It is a cheap gimmick and a publicity stunt at best, by an unknown artist who truly has not experienced what it is to live in a country that restricts your rights because of your gender.

    To quote “The Handmaid’s Tale” for all the Serena Joy’s of this world; the very women who misguidedly impose their own beliefs on others and manufacture a whole new form of oppression… “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”

    Please sign the petition to return Hylas and the Nymphs on public display at the Manchester Art Gallery:

    • Hugh O'Neill says:

      I agree 100% with your views: your appreciation of a beautiful painting and its powerful narrative. I also think it beyond bizarre to remove the painting from view by the Style Polizei. Sadly, I cannot sign your petition because it is on Facebook, to which I am implacably opposed. Vive la Resistance!

    • Terri says:

      Anna’s Eskander… very well said!

      On Facebook I was informed that it was the Evangelicals that were responsible for this trend… but we all know that is not the truth! There is a true disconnect with reality among those that don’t use their own critical thinking and events and history to put life into perspective…

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      What a fantastic response to this disgusting act of censorship!
      How could the directors of the Manchester Art Gallery allow the removal of one of their most popular paintings just to placate the sensitivities of a small, but highly vocal, minority?
      The only thing that should be removed from the gallery are those responsible for this absurd decision.

  10. Emma Marigliano says:

    Instead of enlisting Gallery staff and people ‘connected with the Gallery’ why not invite an eclectic and representative group from the public to ‘remove’ a selection from the gallery, ask they why and then throw this out for discussion.But if you want relevance in the 21st century, surely relevance to Galleries and Museums is what brings people in or, more importantly, what keeps them out?

  11. Clare Gannaway says:

    As one of the people at the gallery who’s been involved in the conversations about this, and was at the event on Friday night, I really want to express how this is not about ‘censorship’. It’s about challenging the outdated and damaging stories this whole part of the gallery is still telling through the contextualising and interpretation of collection displays.
    The area of the gallery which included Hylas and the Nymphs hasn’t changed for a VERY long time and still tells a very particular story about the bodies on display. We think that we can do better than this and the taking down of the painting is a playful way to open up a discussion about this whole gallery, the collection and the way that artworks speak to us through the way they are interpreted and put into context.
    We’d like this gallery to tell a different story in 2018, rather than being about the ‘Pursuit of Beauty’ with a binary tale about how women are either femmes fatale or passive bodies for male consumption. Shouldn’t we be challenging this instead of perpetuating views which result in things like the President’s Club being able to exist? The gallery doesn’t exist in a bubble and these things are connected, surely?
    Nobody is denying those views and ideas have existed in the past; that’s not the point. And nobody is dictating which works of art people can love or not. It’s about challenging those ideas from a contemporary perspective and being critically engaged in political debates about history AND the present. Telling different, relevant stories and acknowledging that views of history change.
    The comments so far have been fascinating to read. We will make changes to those gallery spaces as soon as possible, as we feel this is vitally important. But we want to be open about it and have conversation about how we do this, and that’s what the act of taking down the painting temporarily was about. There’s no book burning going on here!

    • Sue Grimditch says:

      So you agree this was a managerial decision and not a takeover by the people of a publicly owned gallery. As for your cheap shot connection to the Presidents Club, jumping and bandwagon spring to mind. Is the ‘temporary space’ to be filled with another painting? Is Hylas and the Nymphs a temporary or permanent removal?

    • I wrote a thesis on the representation of women in James Bond films… What makes the 21st century so self-righteous over the Victorians? How about we look at how pornography has evolved… I don’t think the Victorians will take to kindly to the demise of our moral values. There’s nothing playful about taking the painting down. That would imply there was something “fun” about it. FYI I’m not having fun. Having this pointless conversation with someone who already has a forgone conclusion isn’t fun… What’s to discuss if all we’re staring at is a blank wall with post its illustrating the sparking of a frenzied witch hunt… How about we castrate every heterosexual man for having a sexual fantasy about a woman… maybe that would be fun!

    • Ettore says:

      The explanation provided by the Manchester Art Gallery is heavily sugar-coated. It’s easy to say: “We have done that to promote debate”. Promoting debate entails to show MORE, not less.
      The curators of an art gallery are the custodians of the art pieces, not their owners. Removing an artwork from the public’s gaze in favour of another one (which I have to say is quite lame) under the pretext of promoting debate is a very dangerous path to walk.
      I’m surprised how the gallery’s curators fail to see this, and just go along with the “promoting debate” narrative by hiding/removing a piece of art that some self-righteous minds consider culturally outdated.

    • shaun says:

      With respect Clare, I don’t find the removing of the painting ‘playful’. Trying to link a work of art to the President Club is, at best, a daft stunt. This is censorship pure and simple. Removing a painting for little more than a naive and ill advised attempt to appear edgy has not opened up debate, merely annoyed loyal patrons who love your gallery and the works of art within.

      • John Taylor says:

        Let me guess…. The next discussion by the curators to be what colour the restoration department should choose to paint swimming costumes over each of the nymphs….

      • Ray says:


        1. The ‘nymphs’ of classical mythology are neither passive nor wanton. That is your misunderstanding. The nymphs are nature spirits governed by the fiercely independent Artemis/Diana. Remember the story of the hunter Actaeon turned into a stage and ripped apart by Artemis’s hounds?

        2. You ignore the place of the idealised body in classical thought. Usually it is the male body and indeed, a proper understanding of the era would include the romanticised nudes of the young Hylas.

        3. It is your job to understand art history and to explain it to the public.

    • Verity Platt says:

      But can you explain why you have chosen to remove a painting which – for all its titillating depiction of the female form – is actually of a scene which REVERSES conventional narratives of desire (and, inescapably, assault)? The nymphs may be portrayed for the viewer’s gaze, but the point of the myth is that they themselves desire Hylas. Is this part of the conversation you would like to stimulate? If not, why didn’t you choose one of any number of paintings which reproduce conventional narratives of power and gender?

    • Richard Freeman says:

      Never have i heard such pretentious, insulting twaddle. This is third wave feminism dressed up as ‘debate’. Has it ever crossed what passes for your mind that people may have come a long way to see this beautiful painting? political correctness is a cancer that is infecting all walks of life. This reeks of 1984 and the Thought Police. You should be ashamed. Look at the comments for god’s sake. But then again your type have no interest in the views of others just your own pc version of reality. You make me sick.

    • Theodora Goss says:

      “We’d like this gallery to tell a different story in 2018 . . .” Excellent. Please sell the painting to a different museum so it can be displayed properly, and display whatever you please in its stead. I am a university lecturer who actually teaches the art and literature of this period, including in the context of the New Woman and the suffrage movement. I teach this painting in historical context. I see nothing educational in your approach, which substitutes a gimmick for genuine aesthetic or historical understanding.

    • Marcus Etinger says:

      “It’s about challenging the outdated and damaging stories this whole part of the gallery is still telling through the contextualising and interpretation of collection displays.”

      You mean you want to re-write history? There’s not much in the Victorian mindset that would hold up to scrutiny these days Clare, but I can’t see how removing this picture enlightens anybody. Might it perhaps be a better idea to pair it with press cuttings of the Presidents Club furore and allow people to come to their own conclusions about the male gaze?
      As it is, taking it down can be construed as censorship – even it’s not intended that way – and that weakens your reasoning. We’re big boys and girls, we can think for ourselves.

    • Mark T says:

      Take all the paintings down- close the gallery. Perfectly good ones at the Whitworth and now Home. Re-invest the money in services for some of the poorest in the city who sleep on the streets. Well you wanted to provoke didn’t you? Maybe the debate should go even further

    • Joby Dorr says:

      Total nonsense.

      How is an honest, fully informed conversation to be had about something that has been removed from view???
      Are we to have this discussion as we stand in the empty space of the original whilst considering images of the painting on our iPhones and laptops?


    • Luke B. says:

      You say this was intended to start a discussion, not as censorship, and I accept that that was the intent. But how could you think it was a good idea to start that discussion by doing something so very similar to censorship? The same act by which you’ve started the discussion has poisoned the discussion too, by inviting comparisons with those groups, universally condemned by history, who have attempted to prohibit “immoral” art.

      If your issue is with the painting’s contextualization, advocate for it to be recontextualized. Give the gallery new signage, or juxtapose these paintings with ones that portray the female form differently, or some such thing. It sounds like you may be trying to do that, with the somewhat vague reference to “changes to those gallery spaces.” But removing the painting from display is the opposite of recontextualization–there’s no context, and no painting either!

      I also object to the characterization of this move as “playful.” Playful would be hanging the painting next to a modern painting that creates a surprising contrast. This is only playful in the sense that a tiresome prank, funny to no one but the prankster, is playful.

    • Paul says:

      As the curator responsible for contemporary art at MAG it is regrettable that you have been permitted to so profoundly influence the interpretation of the more historic works of art in your care and to effectively censor this key work in a public collection. Your account of the decision making process really sounds a little desperate. It smacks of elitism and exclusion. This decision has nothing to do with making historic work relevant to 2018. You are trying to force an issue that is being better discussed in other realms. It is a lousy publicity stunt and is a sign of a much loved and respected institution loosing its confidence and pandering to lazy curatorial thinking. The people of Manchester deserve better from their institutions.

    • Paul Morgan says:

      No. There is nothing “playful” about you removing this masterpiece from display. You are making a political statement against beautiful art. This is the sort of thing I’d expect in a communist country.

    • Steve says:

      MGA get a bloody grip for God sake and stop trying to get aa name for your self. history is history and if you don’t like it don’t look at it . Well the plan worked on getting free advertising hasn’t it.

    • vladimir salazar says:

      Of course is censorship. Is just a beautiful painting about an ancient tale, ninfas are not real, the argonauts are not real. You sound like a character from the book 1984.

    • Anon says:

      Be honest. You have zero intentions of ever putting this beautiful piece back where it belongs – where people can see it. Give it to another gallery who *will* display it. What gives you the right to decide that it’s too immoral for people to see? This is censorship.

    • Anon says:

      Your censorship is not “playful”, and your attempts to frame it as such are deeply disturbing.

      How are we to have a debate about the merits of a work of art that the gallery has decided we are no longer allowed to even see?

      How can you possibly be arguing that removing art from a gallery because you think it’s immoral is not censorship? It’s TEXTBOOK censorship.

    • Debby Van Linden says:

      i totally support this idea!

    • Tara Chambers says:

      Miss Gannawy,
      What you are doing is not a “playful” way of inviting discourse and possible changing the status quo. I am a feminist, and have never had an issue with this masterpiece. It’s all about context. You need another degree or two before you get to make decisions on how the world should appreciate art. Oh… wait… that should never be your job. That’s tyranny.

    • Deborah E Kraak says:

      I find this justification by Clare Gannaway to be insufferably condescending. Surely the public is able to bring its own understanding of history, sexism, etc. to an experience with the art. And Ms. Gannaway’s presentation of Victorian stereotypes about women is itself a facile stereotype that does not recognize the wide range of images, points of view, aspirations, etc. about women that were current in a highly complex era. I can see where the discussion she wants to stimulate could have been better situated in a special exhibition–and one with more depth thesis than she has so far presented.

    • Marc Sylvestre says:

      “I really want to express how this is not about ‘censorship’.”

      When people say “It’s not about the money”, you know it’s about the money.
      Clare, this is about censorship. Duc de Sully’s description of James I aptly applies to you and your faux intellectual gibberish.

    • Samuel Matthews says:

      Do you really think anybody is buying this mendacious hogwash? We all see what’s going on in our society right now, with this burgeoning culture of censorious neo-puritanism. You’re not burning books… yet. You’re just burying them out of sight and out of mind, while you dictate what “story” people are allowed to experience. The irony of bemoaning “Victorian” attitudes, while concealing works of art as if they’ve fallen foul of Victorian obscenity laws, is simply laughable.

    • Bernd Bausch says:

      How can you challenge something if you don’t see it? Are you going to look at an empty wall and discuss the painting that used to hang there? Makes me think of Chomeini issuing a death sentence for Rushdie without having read the Satanic Verses (not that reading the book would have justified his fatwa, but that’s not my point).

    • terje simonsen says:

      For all its professed good intentions, such a move to challenge the ‘damaging stories’ has a quite disturbing resemblance in the interwar period’s removal from galleries of ‘entartete Kunst’—also with professed good intentions. And as we know: The road to Hell is paved with such…..

    • Chris Rae says:

      “I really want to express how this is not about ‘censorship” – sorry but removing a painting so people can’t see it is censorship, I think that is clear to everyone. As a provocation it’s obviously effective in stimulating in a conversation, but I see most of the responses here are negative so it’s probably a counter-productive tactic – you’re just offending and annoying people rather than recruiting them to your cause. Also this painting seems a bizarre choice to support current concerns about harassment of women/MeToo etc since it is Hylas who is abducted by the nymphs – ie he is the victim here.

    • Steve Hanscomb says:

      Hello Clare. Please stop this nonsense and put the painting back. If you want to start a conversation, a well written introduction to the gallery, visible when you walk in, or a postscript as you leave can do this. A blank wall filled with post it notes is just a sure fire way to anger most free thinking people and involve those who simply want a new excuse to rail against the ‘liberal elite’. Is this the conversation you want? You have made a mistake in removing the painting, please return it and let this all die down. There are far better ways to help with the Me Too campaign than blatant censorship.

    • Ailsa Boyd says:

      I do not think that removing a work of art and its reproductions is the most fruitful way of provoking a discussion of what it shows – it just demonstrates censorship. A discussion can only be had with the evidence in front of you. As an art historian/museum professional, I feel that this was the wrong way in which to stimulate this discussion. The ‘playful’ way in which Sonia Boyce interacted with this work does not seem to have translated into the discussion on this page, or in the wider media/social media, which has been very angry. Nor should a ‘playful’ approach be taken towards the debates surrounding #metoo which must form a backdrop to this, the exposure of the consequences of patriarchal power. Removal of the painting reduces and closes down discussion, rather than opening it up to a consideration of art in its historical context.

    • Debra Pring says:

      In my view, this not be considered “censorship”. However, what the strategy does is bends the conversation before it has begun. It is based on the premise that this painting generates only outmoded views. Conversation is valid and necessary. But believe that this method of facilitation results in entrenchment of already-held views.

      • Tom Jameson says:

        As this is a publicly owned work of art in a publically owned gallery who are these people who have decided to remove this beautiful and popular painting? As an adult I find its removal condescending as if I am not fit to decide what I may look at. There is much talk in society about the patriarchy and how it holds people back, there is also a similar system, the matriarchy, that seeks to control what we look at and how we run our lives. It’s alive and well in Manchester Art Gallery at the moment it seems. People will not be properly free until the patriarchy and matriarchy have been dismantled and consigned to the dustbin of history. On a lighter note, stop messing about and put it back in its rightful place. Did you choose ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ because it was considerably easier to move than the voluptuous sirens in ‘The Sirens and Ulysses’ a few rooms along?

    • David says:

      Clare, when you imply that the painting is somehow partly responsible for sexual exploitation and harassment (“President’s Club”), you wade into crass demagogy. What is next: mentioning Sandusky while rationalizing the removal of Michelangelo’s David?

    • Paul Ericson says:

      So what is wrong with the age-old ‘pursuit of beauty’? The alternative is the acceptance of mediocrity. It is a natural instinct in healthy humanity to find attractive partners, pro-create and produce healthy, attractive offspring .. thus humanity would logically evolve healthier and more attractive characteristics. Beauty is beauty is beauty and will always appeal against any amount of political suppression, and will always be an aspiration to be achieved by self-discipline and effort. Much art is a celebration of human beauty, not all of it identical in perception, but identical in its admiration of, and delight in, the heights to which humanity can strive. To strive is good, to achieve is good, to succeed is good … nothing to be ashamed of, or to be ‘questioned’ as if it were some form of societal deviance, which needs to be brought to heel. For those who wish to wallow in mediocrity because others set higher standards, let them have their spaces, but not at the expense of those who have set and achieved their goals.

    • W Black says:

      Sorry Clare, but this is censorship and frankly, there is nothing “playful” about it. I first thought I was reading about some Yahoo museum, library or school district in the deep south of the US enforcing their odd little views, but no, England, really? For shame….perhaps you and your cohorts should take a few moments out of your day and watch some of those book burning films from the Third Reich. Maybe then you would understand you have absolutely no right to tell any individual what to think, what to view, how they should interpret what they are viewing, etc…

    • Jasmine Harper-Jones says:

      I have not the time to read every response on this page but I am yet to find anyone whatsoever who agrees that the removal of this beautiful painting was ever a good idea, and certainly not a ‘playful’ way of engaging debate. Most people are enraged!
      The only good thing that seems to have come out of it is that so many people love this painting and want to see it reinstated.

      I have not visited the Manchester Art Gallery before as I do not live in the area. Perhaps this curated room, Gallery 10, is seen as ‘old fashioned’ in the way female beauty is portrayed but are you trying to CHANGE or ERASE history? Surely it is better to display works of art as they were produced historically and then in another gallery space offer alternative depictions of both male and female forms.

      I have loved the work of JW Waterhouse since I hired a library book about the artist at about the age of 14 years old. I saw the way he depicted females as romantic and beautiful at that age. I longed to look like a JW Waterhouse nymph with their beautiful red hair! I thought these women looked both real and ethereal. It made a nice contrast at the time to many 90s pop idols. I am now a 38 year old art teacher (and a female!). I wouldn’t consider his work negative and have never hesitated to share it with my students.

      Well, here we have it…a debate has been sparked and the best way I can see it being resolved is to print out and display the dozens of responses you’ve had to this ‘debate’ on the gallery wall in the space left by removing Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse. Leave them there for a few weeks for people to read and then get Hylas and the Nymphs back on public display where it belongs.

    • H. van der Gaag says:

      First off, if you think a work of art like this can be reduced to “bodies on display’, our ways part right there.

      But let me address some of the more objectionable aspects of this “challenge to a victorian fantasy” anyway, enjoying for a minute or two the illusion of engaging in a real conversation about these matters.

      The text written by the “gallery takeover” group (how lame to have an official, sanctioned, and possibly paid-for “takeover”, by the way!) is loaded with ideological assumptions and so many questions are begged that it makes the head spin.

      “How can we talk about the collection in ways which are relevant in the 21st century?”

      This assumes that the collection was not talked about in a “relevant” way before this intervention. Isn’t it the intervention’s responsibility to argue for its own (greater) relevance, first?

      “This gallery presents the female body as either a ‘passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme fatale’. Let’s challenge this Victorian fantasy!”

      This statement about the way women are depicted comes with no supporting arguments, fallaciously suggests that there are only two possible interpretations of what the galley was showing, assumes that what is shown can be reduced to a “presentation” of “the female body” and finally, blatantly, instead of leaving some room for discussion, pronounces the verdict that we’re dealing with a “Victorian fantasy” and proceeds to call on the audience to “challenge” this fantasy, exclamation mark. I have visions of Red Guards.

      “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 first sentence is, to begin with, wide off the mark in that it talks about ‘race’ (a fictional category), and apart from that it’s gratuitous and redundant. Everything that exists exists in “a world full of intertwined issues”. Tell us something new? Then, again, in an implicit but therefor no less glaring non sequitur, and instead of leaving the tiniest bit of space for the audience’s own appreciation of the art works in question, we are asked how these might be somehow made to serve the takeover group’s ideological agenda (because that is, clearly, what is meant by “more contemporary, relevant”, even though that’s a practically content-free phrase).

      “What other stories could these artworks and their characters tell? What other themes would be interesting to explore in the gallery?”
      Repeating the sins of the preceding paragraph, the audience is once more told how to think about the works of art in question. Not a sliver of actual art history is offered to the readers, for their consideration. Instead, Waterhouse’s beautiful nymphs are condemned as mere bodies presented to serve a fantasy, much like sex workers are often condemned as accomplices of the patriarchy and what-not. In the end, this kind of feminist agitation reduces women to their bodies and presents them as speechless sexual beings and helpless victims of the male gaze much like the typical utterance of actual, ideological sexism does.

      Let’s not have a replay of the cultural revolution, please. Let’s not lose our heads.

    • David Edwards says:

      Wow… how trite… look at the story behind the painting as I fear that it is lost on you… If you had for example Sir Isumbras at the ford (Lady Lever) would you remove that as it celebrated a knight in his old age who tried to Christianise the Muslims in the Holy Land… art is there to learn from not go into denial about… if you remove the art you are guilty of feeding the divide not educating… remember the Met in New York refused to take a painting down?

      The “playful” event was far from playful but a pernicious attempt at censorship… almost an act of wanton vandalism. Having spent yesterday reading the volume of comments the gallery has received largely in favour of the painting remaining I only see what you and your colleagues have done as one of the worse “own goals” in memory. A shameful act – some have said a cheap stunt, I actually think it is an expensive stunt and one that MAG could live to regret. I sincerely hope that you rise from this “bloody nose” you have received and look at the collection with fresh eyes and rejoice in what you have. IF you truly want to engage with the viewing public – engage don’t alienate… art is there to be viewed, considered and pondered on… it’s removal however, temporary does remove choice… that is censorship! By far and away the cheapest shot ever was likening it to The President’s Club.

      I would ask you to look at the mosaic in Musée of Saint-Romain-en-Gal where there is a 3BC Roman interpretation of Hylas and the nymphs, it’s not that far off the Waterhouse… is that still relevant for 2018… sadly I think you have both mismanaged and misinterpreted art.

    • Andy (Western Australia) says:

      So you removed the painting because you think it represents damaging ideals about women and you think you should “tell a different story”… and you don’t think this is censorship.

      Can I send you a dictionary?

    • Don says:

      Ms Gannaway —

      I find your supposed justification for this move completely unconvincing: it smacks only of a publicity stunt to promote a future exhibition rather than any kind of “debate” about Victorian attitudes to women.

      I also see from the Gallery’s website that it owns four works by Allen Jones. All are unillustrated on the site, but from the descriptions and from web research I see that three of them feature women either nude or in states of undress, which might be considered just as exploitative as Waterhouse’s nymphs by some viewers. Since you’re the contemporary art curator these works fall squarely within your area of responsibility. Have you therefore considered either pillorying them in public or possibly removing them from the collection completely? If not, why not?

  12. ANON says:

    If it’s “temporary”, this implies that it will be going back up on a given date. If not, then it is misleading and arguably disingenuous to use that word.

  13. The ways of seeing represented in this painting and others like it have been challenged already, for the last forty plus years, by many well known and not so well known artists. Unless you suffer from amnesia or live under a stone the argument has already been made, accepted and disseminated. This piece of banal gesture politics looks like the efforts of an excitable undergraduate, who’s just seen Schneeman, Wilke and the rest for the first time and thinks all this is radical and new. I thought the contemporary perspective was an informed and grown-up one, and that we were in a pluralist era in which we can see paintings like this for what they are. It really does not need some vacuous gesture to make the issues this painting throws up visible to any thinking person, and the condescension that says WE have found it necessary to remove this from YOUR sight to teach you something is breathtaking.

  14. Joan Davies says:

    Clare Gannaway says “We’d like this gallery to tell a different story in 2018, rather than being about the ‘Pursuit of Beauty’ with a binary tale about how women are either femmes fatale or passive bodies for male consumption. Shouldn’t we be challenging this instead of perpetuating views which result in things like the President’s Club being able to exist? ”
    It’s MAG that chose to to name a Gallery ‘ Pursuit of Beauty’ and place the painting there, rather than the Pre-Raphaelite Gallery 7, so perhaps it’s MAG’s gallery themes which could be discussed.

    Additionally I’m unconvinced by the blog statement ‘The act of taking down this painting was part of a group gallery takeover that took place during the evening of 26 January 2018. People from the gallery team and people associated with the gallery took part.’ If the group was the gallery team and associates how was this a ‘takeover’ as opposed to a managerial decision? I’m wondering whether the language has been chosen to give the event an edge which isn’t truly justified.

    • Clare Gannaway says:

      Joan, I completely agree with you that the gallery’s themes need addressing and challenging. That’s kind of the point and it’s amazing it hasn’t been done sooner, really.

      • Patricia Fear says:

        The painting was done to depict a classical myth tale and as such is part of history as is the original poem/story. Leaving the painting in your “historical art section” does not mean you cannot show other works. If you do not want to show such paintings then let other galleries who do understand their place in history have them.

  15. Ettore says:

    …and this was when the Manchester Art Gallery became a circus.

  16. Michael Browne says:

    An original intention… Can have far more ‘unintentionall’, multiple far-reaching effects and consequences, than you realise.
    Negative ‘public’ actions will automatically generate negative public responses. Your in danger of dividing and reducing the demographics of your visitors, instead of increasing them.
    You have to take a holistic approach instead of an overall ‘replacement’ approach. Vetting of ‘any’ artistic integrity is wrong. Whether is a man who wishes to pose as a fine work of art, or a man who wished to paint a woman as/within a fine work of art.
    All tastes within the law have equal validity. And within this, the public will remind you that ‘quality/virtuosity’ is regarded very highly.
    It’s noticeable that the wall space for historical art is steadily shrinking year by year. And the historic gallery is turning into a ‘Tate Modern’. One at the expense of the other!
    Create public themed + counter-themed events/shows, but don’t remove popular history from its own territory.

    The public challenges you to produce more imaginative, integrated, themes, instead of removing widely popular artworks.

    Play fair 🙂

  17. Sue says:

    A painting like Hylas and the Nymphs teaches people the Greek Myths. Your interpretation of the painting could encourage people to read the Greek Myths and learn for themselves. They would find that Hylas was gay, in a relationship with Heracles, and the nymphs, far from just being passively beautiful, were in fact abducting him for their own ends. It is far from a stuffy, prudish story!

    • Genevieve says:

      They are fools for ideology. They only see the bodies of victims and the only context is political power. No story or history or beauty. Next it will be ‚whose history?‘. This is post 1980s university education on the loose in the workplace which is as irritating as fu€k.
      I hope they transport it to Australia where English culture still exists and where it will be adored.

    • Jane Willis says:

      So true, makes a nonsense of the reasons it was removed.Maybe the group that removed it could do with a little educating before pontificating about “playful discussion”.
      I will not be going back to Manchester Art Gallery until this nonsense stops.

  18. Ginny Ann Weinberger says:

    I have flown across the ocean to visit this beautiful painting. Have never, ever, viewed it as “bodies”.
    How very disappointing that the museum, known for its rich collection of PreRaphaelite art, chooses to politicize it.
    And if you must do so, why not pick on de Kooning’s women instead?

  19. Claire L says:

    There is a simple solution.
    If the Manchester Art Gallery wish to take part in a social experiment perhaps they should just lend John William Waterhouse’s masterpiece to another gallery, for example the Walker in Liverpool.
    That would mean that those of us who wish to view it could do so at our leisure, and those who don’t, don’t have to.
    It would be interesting to know who actually owns the painting and on what terms it was entrusted to its current home. Is the gallery now in breach of contract?
    Do what you like with your social experiments but don’t inflict your narrow views on those who wish to see this beautiful painting, and who may have limited time in which to view it.
    This is quite outrageous and heavy handed in my opinion, and shows an extreme amount of arrogance, particularly when those responsible try to justify their actions.

  20. Ettore says:

    The political correctness’ madness has reached out to the domain of the arts, starting to censor masterpieces that some gallery curators deem not in line with today’s range of acceptable discourse.

    Let’s do ourselves (and the generations to come) a favour by promoting freedom of expression in the arts and in public speech by signing this petition.

  21. Brian Young says:

    Another example of historical (hysterical) revisionism by those who seem only able to see the prurient in works of art to the exclusion of the beauty.

  22. Patrick Taylor says:

    What do I think? I think the move is outrageous, and in Manchester where I thought there was quite a good art gallery. In fact it makes me so angry I can’t think straight enough just now to explain why (although it should be obvious when looking at such a harmless painting). Anyone can see it online anyway.

  23. Alex Jupp says:

    All i want to know is what will happen to paintings like this if other galleries in the U.K decide to follow this trend? if your planing on putting in storage forever i suggest to give it/ sell it to someone who will put it on public display.

    Art can offend anyone, if you go down this path you’ll end up with an empty gallery.

  24. Leo Yellow says:

    The Feminist Marxists behind this disgusting act need to be removed from their jobs.
    What’s next?
    Destroying statues with pick axes like Islamic State ?

    Are you trying to appease the rabid feminists or the Moslems ?

    This country is circling the drain thanks to political correctness and cultural Marxism.

  25. Chris Muir says:

    Art is not for conforming to the mode of the day. It is for challenging the conventions of said mode.

  26. J. Ennis says:

    This is quite definitely censorship. Also a reinterpretation of the painting to fit with the zeitgeist. Does every naked female depicted in art now get considered for a politically correct cover-up? Perhaps Christo can be asked to wrap-up all nudity in art as a new proposal?

  27. Steve says:

    Jump on a bandwagon, why not? Or better still why?

  28. This is an unreflected act of violent homophobia, as a young man growing up gay in a once hostile Manchester it was a way out of the straight world. Was it in the Queens Park collection? If so was that not a bequest with terms?

  29. Michael Wyvill says:

    May I suggest another section to your web site – “What’s Not On” – then maybe people can plan their visits around these publicity stunts and actually see the paintings? Sigh.
    People come to art galleries to see the paintings – not to see the remains of a ‘takeover’. Please do this via another forum that doesn’t impact the visiting public.

  30. Simon says:

    Removal of this painting is not quite on a par with the wholesale destruction of ancient monuments in the Middle East by religious extremists.

    But it’s probably only a matter of degree.

  31. Craig says:

    As we move on our linear way through time we all gain an understanding of the context in which items were created and this understanding helps shape our thoughts and actions in the present, selectively censoring/hiding away the past in darkened rooms does nothing to promote growth. Hide nothing discuss all.

  32. Jeffrey Wood says:

    Shame on you for taking down this painting. I suspect you did this to gain publicity but you are flirting with a disgusting ideology. What’s next, are the texts of ancient Greece to be taken off the bookstore shelves because women did not hold a place in the senate? Sickening act of despicable post modern cultural defilement.

  33. Nathalie says:

    Ridiculous act to remove this pre-Raphaelite painting from the gallery +even the postcards on sale (really!). Too much thought process from the curator and how pathetic really to say it’s not censorship and call it a space for debate.

  34. Simon Howles says:

    “This gallery presents the female body as either a ‘passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme fatale’. Let’s challenge this Victorian fantasy!”

    Let’s challenge this 21st Century assumption first. I fundamentally disagree with the stated premise, which is an imposition from one individual at the expense of other more nuanced opinions. It reeks of new puritanism and has no place in art unless one has a fetish for armbands and uniforms.

  35. Frederick Blythe says:

    “What other themes would be interesting to explore in the gallery?”

    Those dogs playing pool are pretty good paintings, problem solved.

  36. Tom Beresford says:

    Either a dismal publicity strategy stunt, imposition of an extremist view of the representation of women derived from the new Puritanism or a pathetic cod-intellectual attempt to ‘inspire debate’ ignoring the fact that most visitors to MAG want to see great works of art not be sucked into endless meta analysis. Why can’t you just stop interfering?

  37. neil blackshaw says:

    I find this retrograde and deeply depressing. The notion that a public gallery should deliberately choose show only the historical art that is deemed to be acceptable on some transient and political criterion ought to be anathema. We surely know where that leads. Its irresponsible and juvenile.

  38. Vincent says:

    Thank you (and the Guardian) for having given me the opportunity to discover this fine work of art and to learn more about the pre-Raphaelites and the myth of Hylas. But it’s the first time I see painted female characters described as «bodies». That’s weird… But you’re right, this should be replaced with another painting, more in line with our times. Let me suggest an allegory like «Stupidity ruling the world»…

  39. Stephen says:

    According to your website this artwork is still on display.

    Presumably you will be reimbursing those who have trusted that this information is correct and have travelled to see it.

  40. Micheal Jacob says:

    Removing from view a picture which many people love and cherish is hardly ‘playful’. It smacks more of a crude attempt to force a particular view on to the public. If the removal is temporary, when will the picture be returned to display? Otherwise, as a commenter above has said, why not lend it to the Walker, the Lady Lever, or Birmingham? In any case, the pursuit of beauty (or the cult of beauty as the V&A/Musee d’Orsay exhibition had it) was what the artists in your room were concerned with, the room is accurately named. A municipal gallery is for everyone, not a platform for pushing particular views. I trust that Hylas and the Nymphs will be back on display very soon.

  41. Andrew C says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to think about this subject and engage with it. It’s a very courageous thing to do. It also raises the issue about ‘who’ is art for and whether curation should ‘force’ an opinion on the viewer.

    My reaction is as follows: Try as I might, I cannot see taking something from public view for an overtly political or social engineering purpose as (1) censorship (selecting out rather than selecting in), (2) philistinism (taking away something of beauty) and (3) an attempt at thought control (overt manipulation).

    To the core matter: If the intention is to helps the public discourse on child molestation then I think it does the opposite. Child molestation is a serious crime. Sweeping something under the carpet perpetuates it, it doesn’t help stamp it out. If anyone is ‘odd’ enough to be titivated by the nymphs, then I’d sooner they came out and said it so they could be challenged.

    Also, if it assumes that all or most viewers would ‘get off’ on this picture in some way then that seems to me to be projecting views onto others quite wrongly.

    Finally I would suggest the whole point of art is that one interprets it from one’s own perspective, so the idea that curation should attempt to push the viewer to interpret something in a particular way is one that’s off to a pretty sticky start.

    • Mark Sutton says:

      Hi, I guess you meant to say “Try as I might, I cannot see taking something from public view for an overtly political or social engineering purpose as *anything other* than (1) censorship …”

    • Felix Weigend says:

      Brilliant idea with the burning of a book redefined as literature. I will borrow this from you.

  42. Rex Mundi says:

    So it has come to this. The act of censoring a piece of art is now considered an act of artistic expression. A generation which has lost the ability to create anything of beauty must redefine the destruction of the past as art. What’s next ? The burning of a book will be considered literature ?

  43. Carly M says:

    This is my favorite painting in the whole museum, I love it so much I have a replica hanging over my bed. I’m a 34 year old feminist who loves Greek Mythology. It tells a story in the painting. If you have issues with the gallery signs, change them, thats your responsibility. Don’t just take a much loved piece of art off display as part of a “feminist installation”. What next..fig leaves on penises…oh wait the Victorians already did that. I will be boycotting the art gallery until this goes back up.

    • Diane Eglaze says:

      @Carly M

      Well said. Part of this ridiculous stunt is the patronising decision to decide what art means, on our behalf. How dare they.

    • Rita1947 says:

      I also love this painting and also believe I am a feminist (it’s a broad church). I think the Gallery has succeeded in generating debate. I hope that, point made, they put the work back – perhaps with a sample of the responses its removal provoked.

      Anyway I’ve enjoyed scrutinising online images of the painting more closely, and far more often, than I usually do. So that’s a plus really.

  44. Anna says:

    I am appalled by this condescending little stunt – which means that people will not be able to see this painting for the duration. What next? Do you think the Prado is going to put the Naked Maja in a room with a trigger warning? Will the Venus de Milo be winched into the basement of the Louvre?

  45. Gordon Hayward says:

    Removing this beautiful painting is political correctness in the extreme. Rehang this beautiful piece of art.

  46. R Lloyd says:

    How disappointing, the decision clearly shows that the curators have no understanding of the myth of Hylas and the Nymhs. It is Hylas who is being objectifed after all….

  47. Darren Birchall says:

    An incredibly beautiful painting removed and denied from the public as a stunt designed solely to align with, and pander towards, current attitudes towards sexism in general. I have had a print of this work of absolute beauty on my wall for 20 years and have often returned to the gallery to see the genuine article – how sad that this opportunity has now gone for however long it will be in storage. In my opinion its removal implies already that you have made a censure towards it’s subject matter based on personal politics which is a retrospective swipe at the artistic and cultural history that it is a fundamental part of. I offer you a question, which you may choose to define as rhetorical or not, which is .. what would happen if the majority of the public respond by saying, great, it’s not politically correct so keep it in storage. In that case, would you keep it there? What a load of crap.

  48. Daniel T says:

    This is silliness of the highest order. More discouraginly, it makes movements which have fought against the exploitation and objectification of women look petty and insignificant while undermining the important message of those movements.

    Amongst the many crimes of Isis and other genocidal groups is the destruction of culture through the imposition of meaning. For Isis it was the imposition of the idea that images in Palmyra and elsewhere were incititing beliefs they believed were blasphemous. I don’t want to sound alarmist, but this decision is in a similar vein by introducing the idea that this painting incites the demeaning of women and the objectification of adolescent girls. It doesn’t. The gallery is the one creating that belief.

    I don’t even like the painting or this style, but this is patently ridiculous.

  49. […] says it has removed JW Waterhouse’s 1896 painting Hylas and the Nymphs from its displays “to prompt conversation”. Yet the conversation can only really be about one thing: should museums censor works of art on […]

  50. Morgan (Ms) says:

    The ‘current climate’ is about one person enforcing their sexual need on another. About one gender, generally women, appearing to be complicit, ie ‘gagging for it’ when they are really being put in a position of sexual dispowerment. So then how has any of what has been genuinely wrong about how people of respect have been found to be treating others with disrespect, relate to Hylas and the Nymphs by JW Waterhouse? This painting, and generally Waterhouse’s works, is demonstrating the opposite message. Because these women are choosing what they want. Therefore they are strong! Therefore they are powerful! They are not being forced into an action that they are not willing to commit. The nymphs are behaving as nymphs did in ancient Greek mythology because it is an ancient Greek story! I worked for Rape Crisis and I’m all for demanding people treat each other with respect, sexually and generally, but if we are going to start applying censorship to art that actually speaks for sexual freedom, because Hylas is not being forced into the water, then we could be accused of hysterically throwing our best symbols of sexual independence down the proverbial bath’s plughole, along with that poor baby!

  51. Mark F says:

    How can it ever be better to not see a work, rather than to see it?

    Why not just rehang it along with other paintings of a similar nature and label the exhibition “Degenerate Art”?

    The fact is that censorious people like the people responsible for this nonsense just don’t trust people to make up their own minds.

    The person who started a petition to have a Balthus painting removed from the NY Met expressed anxiety about the work being viewed by “the masses”and that says it all really. This is puritanical, patrician illiberalism of the worst kind.

    No more donations from me when I visit.

  52. Matt H says:

    One thing I find interesting about this painting is the contrast between the portrayal of these nymphs and the rather more repressed view of women in Victorian society (and I admit to having limited knowledge of the realities of life for a woman in Victorian England. The picture I hold is of women clad watertight from chin to toe and with freedoms granted occasionally and inconsistently)

    Rather than censoring images based on certain sensibilities, it might be more interesting to see an exhibition – spanning cultures and times – that juxtaposes such sexualized images of women against those images that present a more conservative fashion. It seems to me that this is a false binary generated by male dominated societies; fantasy vs jealousy. Lets challenge that binary, but let’s do it by exposing the fundamental hypocrisy rather than a hodge-podge censorship

    Most of all, let’s keep having these conversations

    • Matt H says:

      … After posting this, I then took the time to read the other comments and was shocked by how few people were willing to engage in this conversation.

      I hope it doesn’t get you all down and that you keep on trying to provoke discussion and challenge perceptions.

      And to everyone who views this as censorship: anybody who edits, curates or even creates art (of any form) is presenting their own personal view to the world. That – in and of itself – is not an imposition, but an invitation. Listen, respect, engage… please

      • Susan says:

        People are engaging in discussion. They’re just sharing views that don’t match yours.

      • Joe Baker says:

        “… After posting this, I then took the time to read the other comments and was shocked by how few people were willing to engage in this conversation.”

        ‘This conversation’? Really? Or are you more shocked that people aren’t stupid enough to be sucked into a divisive leftist stunt.

        Welcome to art identity politics.

        No debate just division.

      • Marcus Etinger says:

        If the purpose was to start a discussion, then she’s done really well Matt. Unfortunately for Clare, the conversation just doesn’t appear to be going her way. That’s the problem with the public I guess, they don’t always do what they’re told.

      • Philip Teale says:

        “I then took the time to read the other comments and was shocked by how few people were willing to engage in this conversation.”

        Is it only a conversation if they agree with you Matt?

      • Pilgarlic says:

        I am surprised that you you cannot see the illogicality of removing all trace of an object (the painting and the cards) and then expect to create a debate. What are people to talk about – a blank wall? Since it is about a Greek myth, the Greeks themselves, who valued education and vision, would be dismayed at the lack of perception that leads you happily to countenance so great a paradox

      • Henry Justin Marcel says:

        I must disagree. This curator has gotten a little too full of themselves. The role of a curator is to tell a story, but it’s to tell a story of a particular artist, a particular style, a period of time, or a subject or theme. It’s not to tell the story of their personal politics. Removing a work from display and replacing it with nothing because they personally disapprove of the work is censorship. It can not reasonably be construed as anything else. People don’t want to engage in this discussion because they resent the manner in which they are being coerced into engaging in it. In these circumstances, it is completely reasonable for people to simply refused to engage. This curator clearly thinks that they are more significant than the work they are curating which is, frankly, preposterous. I encourage people to continue to refuse to engage.

      • Paul says:

        Hi Matt,

        It is censorship read the quote in the Guardian “For me personally, there is a sense of embarrassment that we haven’t dealt with it sooner. 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.”

        It’s not about the action, but about the intention of the curator.

      • Marc Sylvestre says:

        You and the American far right have a lot in common.

      • Ray says:

        I’m all for discussion and it is certainly the job of curators and galleries to educate the public. My problem was that the reasons the gallery gave only served to demonstrate their ignorance and incompetence. I found their reasoning simplistic and embarrassing. Rather than discuss the painting, let’s discuss their lack of knowledge of the subject (of both the idealisation of the human form, male and female, in classical art – and the deeper meaning of the myth depicted in the painting).

      • Susan says:

        It’s a publicly owned museum. The curator is more than welcome to display whatever she wants in her own property.

        Until the painting is returned, I won’t be supporting Manchester Art Gallery anymore.

      • True S. says:

        Presumably you are addressing these supplementary remarks to yourself, as you also describe the act as one of censorship in your first comment. No-one denies the need to curate large collections, but what we see here is a curator elevating her role to that of moral instructor to us, the ill informed. There is no conversation to be had, because the ‘correct’ opinion has been stated up front, and action taken before we, the unwashed, were even alerted.

    • Eric D says:

      Yes. On the one hand, Victorians had covered piano legs, and ‘exposed ankle’ photos as porn. Yet, on the other, art was pretty free: even the beginnings of ‘tableax vivants’. Or was that a later reaction to Victorian prudery?

      I think one problem today is that we consume reality and fantasy (news and entertainment) through the same media. Can we no longer tell the difference? Has ‘Reality TV’ displaced reality?

  53. I used to visit the gallery in my lunch hour and spend time studying all the paintings. The pre-Raphaelite works inspired one of my novels (even though in the novel I set a key scene in the Whitworth instead).

    I don’t mind cycling collections at all, but attempts to hide or censor the past are generally counter-productive. Instead we should analyse the past as it was, and interpret it. We can’t do that when it is locked away. It’s like the bowdlerised versions of many books like Tom Sawyer. It’s actually better to see them in the context of the time and use them as starting points for discussing changing attitudes than to pretend any offensive elements never existed. In one case we educate. In the other we miss the opportunity to do so.

  54. Mark Lane says:

    Maybe you could ask the Musée d’Orsay for a loan of Courbet’s “L’Origine du Monde”. That should provoke the conversation you are requesting.

  55. Peter T says:

    In a city of proud liberal values such as Manchester, this can only be seen as a betrayal of the moral, educational and social progress that we have achieved in our great city. This curator has done us all a profound disservice, and her irrational act will almost certainly damage the reputation of the Gallery itself. She has no mandate to censor our access to Waterhouse’s exceptional art. It’s removal is an act of cultural vandalism, plain and simple.

  56. Daniel McQueen says:

    I will not return to your gallery until this painting hangs there again. This was a work that during my university years engaged me with my first appreciation of art. This is po faced censorship at and a dangerous retrograde step for 21st century morality. The comments here speak for themselves. Get off your high horse.

  57. Susan Burky says:

    How dare you remove this iconic painting by one of the most talented artists to ever have lived. You, Manchester Art Gallery, have gone too far in your removal of Waterhouse’s ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’. This act of censorship is shameful. Art lovers of the world will not stand for this.

  58. Alex says:

    Where to start with this nonsense?

    I’m not keen on the painting, but that’s hardly the point. It is the height of historical illiteracy to remove a painting because of the dictates of some modish ideological perspective. The painting may not be very interesting aesthetically, and may even be risible on some level, but it’s also a perfectly reasonable narrative depiction of the myth of Hylas and the Nymphs. Perhaps, therefore, you would like to start removing “problematic” stories from the corpus of Greek mythology? Where will this purge end? When everything offensive to contemporary political sensibilities has been placed under erasure?

    I know those responsible for this think they are on the side of the angels, but they really aren’t. The removal of this painting has the singular distinction of being both utterly fatuous and somewhat sinister.

  59. Grant says:

    An absurd and facile thing to do.

    The nymphs (non-human) are in the process of kidnapping Hylas so the viewer knows these are not what they appear and your preconceptions are unjustified.

    Ignoring that, its beautifully painted – no Tracey Emin here – wonderfully composed and detailed beyond the ability of most artists. It remains a truly fantastic painting. Not all pre-Raphaelites were, but this one is.

    If Manchester don’t want it, can I have it please?

    Waterhouse’s work shows most of todays successful artists for the talentless dross they are.

  60. Paul Halsall says:

    As a gay man I am so utterly pissed off by this act of censorship (it’s still censorship even if you say its not) and what seems to be a group of small-minded prudes now in charge at the Manchester.

  61. P.M.Fleming says:

    Ridiculous decision!

  62. Rich says:

    I studied art but I’m no art historian and I know nothing about Victorian gender politics beyond the commonly received wisdom. This may simply be a depiction of male desire but my first thought was that this painting might just as easily be an allegory about the dangers and pitfalls of male desire rather than a celebration of it. We all have base desires that we may be subservient to or in control of or somewhere in the middle. This shows a man not in control of his desire and I would posit that it is this leading him to his doom, not the women them selves who are, after all, a projection of that desire.

    It reminds me of Odysseus and the sirens, a story which (without going into much detail) I believe to be an allegory about man subduing and mastering his own baseness. Despite temptation and a 20 year absence, Odysseus was ultimately faithful to his wife Penelope.

    We should not merely view the past through today’s lens. To paraphrase Mary Beard, if we create a window to the past and expect to recreate a full picture for something which will inevitably contain voids it will be tempting to fill those with our own subjective views. We can’t just look at picture, we have to look at the window.

    • Rich says:

      Ps. I think it’s a shame so many responses seem to take this a literal act of censorship. C’mon people, if it were, why can I see the picture at the top of this page and why haven’t they removed all ‘problematic’ images.

      Also, I’m not sure there is such a thing as true objectivity but if we all strived a little harder to be objective in public discourse I think we’d all be enriched for it.

  63. Attila says:

    Sad to see this happening in the 21. century. Are you going to burn inappropriate books next? Or just lock those away too?

  64. Simon says:

    Absolutely disgraceful to remove the Waterhouse painting. Put it back as soon as possible, and don’t be so pathetic.

  65. Cathy's daughter says:

    straight female. Love the pictue don’t feel upset by it, I’ve got breasts so they don’t scare me. I’m not interested in intrepreting, challenging the narrative, or looking at someone appropriating William Morris designs by scribbling ‘alternative anti-colonial PC unimaginative’ felt pen on them. The ‘show the Queen with a black face’ trope has been done before, it’s not saying anything. Put Waterhouse back. Some of us aren’t afraid of beauty, and don’t need big sisters to tell us other sisters what we’re permitted to see.

    • caroline o'sullivan says:

      I completely agree with those who say that this is illiterate censorship, but what also disturbs me is the action of the curator. This is not a `playful’ gesture designed to provoke debate, it is an ill thought out move engendered by a trite and banal thought process. I expect a high quality of curatorship at public galleries. Curatorship of public art is a huge responsibility and should be based on expertise, intelligence and a non judgemental attitude to art. This painting, as other either great or universally popular works, speaks to universal human themes, something we all relate to. I know you want to put your personal stamp on your work, but this is a job where you, as curator are a public servant and you should act as such. This is naïve and illiberal and I will not be visiting this gallery.

  66. Mike Chivers says:

    Our culture is drowning in a tsunami of digitised hardcore porn and you thinks it’s time to get all prissy about a harmless piece of Victorian cheesecake? I am deeply disturbed by this decision and the whole “Year Zero” approach to rewriting history. I will not be visiting Manchester Art Gallery until this picture is put back on display.

  67. JJ says:

    Trendy PC nonsense. You should never try and contextualise historic art by the standards of today. Presumably you object to Renoir as well? The most objectionable thing about this painting is the overly romantic style.

  68. Patricia says:

    Why the hysteria? The painting has not been burned. We are told it has been removed temporarily in order to provoke a reaction. We have been given permission to talk about what the painting-and possibly others which share some of its features- means to us-positive and negative views are equally permitted. Personally I find it disturbing that the tone of this conversation is so bitter with so many contributions assuming bad faith on the part of the Gallery when the explanation on the website is so open. Jonathan Jones in the Guardian is doing his usual rabble rousing-in the interests of his own notoriety or in the interests of a debate-well, your guess is a good as mine

    • Marc Sylvestre says:

      “We are told it has been removed temporarily in order to provoke a reaction”

      Well they are getting a reaction, by people who believe in freedom of expression and not censoring art. DOH

    • Don says:

      In what sense have we been given “permission” to talk about this painting? Are you really suggesting that debate can only take place when officially sanctioned?

  69. Uli says:

    Genuinely saddened by this. There’s great inequality and asymmetry when it comes to art in this country with the spoils going, like everything else to London.The V&A’s heist of Bradford’s photos is a recent example.

    Manchester has a world class collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and the collection is a real jewel in what Manchester, as a cultural centre, has to offer. To start removing pieces like this – pieces that are relatively innocuous in the greater scheme of things – diminishes Manchester and especially Manchester Art Gallery.

    Over the last 30 plus years I have seen a lot of art at Manchester Art Gallery and not all of it great. However, the Pre-Raphaelite collection is a constant in the sheer quality of the paintings on show.

  70. Liz Foster says:

    This smacks of the Nazis removing art they considered debauched. Put it back or give it to another gallery which will display it.

  71. Tinfoil Hatman says:

    The implication here is that male appreciation of a female body is somehow wrong, indecent, or unethical. It’s perfectly normal and healthy for men to appreciate the beauty of a women’s body. It doesn’t mean he thinks less of her as a person. It is just a man’s recognition of female beauty. It is somewhat ironic that you are striving to challenge a Victorian fantasy by engaging in the very prudishness that Victorians are best known for.

  72. Steve Tennison says:

    The ‘conversation’ so far looks somewhat one sided and you, MAG, look very silly.

    The problem with the dictum usually associated with PT Barnum, that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, is that what might work for a nineteenth century freak show does not hold for a serious art establishment in the c21.

  73. jason Beckett says:

    Please can Manchester Art Gallery let us know when this painting will once again be on display so that members of the public can once again view it and make up their own minds about it. I have just read the article in the Guardian concerning the sad removal of this painting and the overwhelmingly critical comments on this page. Hopefully the Gallery will listen to the views of the public and realise that this clumsy experiment should be brought to an end and return the picture as soon as possible.

  74. Sophia says:

    Hylas and the Nymphs is one of the best works by JW Waterhouse. Your attempt to use this picture (or rather its removal from the gallery) as a leverage “to provoke discussion” (which should mean “virtue signalling and pursue of cheap popularity”) is absolutely disgraceful. This picture was provoking discussion and thought where it was and where it belongs – in the museum exhibition. If you are still a museum and not a Ministry of Moral. Your excuses “we’ll keep the picture out of sight to provoke discussion” are pathetic and I would call them also disgusting. Nearly as disgusting as Clare Gannaway’s use of the sore theme of “#MeToo” to “justify” this unpardonable attitude towards both Art and public. Does Clare Gannaway really think that females are so stupid that they will be offended by this picture? Well, she obviously should see from the reactions here that it is not so. But even now Clare Gannaway and her clique (sorry, after what happened I cannot possibly call this museum administration) continue to hold her “we will still keep the picture away from you, keep talking, we want you to talk, but not to see the picture” position.
    Well, I think it is quite enough talking. This museum is funded by few public funds, here is the list.

    Manchester City Council

    Arts Council England

    Heritage Lottery Fund

    The Zochonis Charitable Trust

    The British Council

    The Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust

    The John Ellerman Foundation

    GF Smith

    Farrow & Ball

    I plan to contact each and every one of them explaining the situation created by Clare Gannaway’s lack of professionalism and want of cheap popularity. I will attach screenshots from this forum to show the reaction of the public and the poor excuses of museum workers. Then I will try to contact each and every one of the patrons here I am sure they will be quite interested to see that they suddenly became the patrons of some virtue signalling programme and not a museum.
    I will strongly recommend those who want the picture back (and the people who put it away out of the Manchester Art Gallery) do the same.

    Oh, and by the way. I am a female. I am a researcher, with more than one high education. I am also a cancer survivor. During my chemo I came to see “Hylas and the Nymphs” whenever I could (about once in three weeks, because I was in a lot of pain). It soothed me and helped me through. As a piece of infinite beauty and true Art. So dear Miss Gannaway, could you, please, get down from the cold and snowy peaks of your virtue and put the picture back, where people can see it and think about it. If you did not know it was supposed to provoke thought that way.

    I will make screenshot of this comment. Just in case someone will get another idea of censorship that is masked as “thought provocation”.

  75. Matthew Cobb says:

    This is a ludicrous decision. And the nonsense about ‘provoking a conversation’ is a fig-leaf (ha!) for censorship. Just as well you aren’t lucky enough to own the explicit L’Origine du monde or any of those queasy Balthus paintings, or indeed to be selling Lolita in your bookshop. If you want a ‘conversation’, then have it WITH THE PAINTING. Not by shoving it in store. A truly dreadful petty and rather pathetic decision.

  76. Sam says:

    Art is nuance and interpretation, whereby an artist’s vision can mean many things to many people. As times change, so do interpretations. The profound becomes the profane. But whether profound or profane, the measure of an artwork is its ability to provoke a response. That response is a reflection of the spectator, they who wander the gallery looking for something that stirs their emotion and humanity. In choosing to censor art, you are censoring your response. Whatever the content, your response is what makes you an individual. Art can be challenging and it can ask us questions. It is not the fault of the paint upon the canvas if we don’t like our answers.

    In it’s own way, removing the painting and asking for a response is art. Like a Rorschach test, we are put in a position where we must consider an image or action on our own. When an art work becomes part of the scenery, it is no longer seen. Notable by absence, the removed painting is now more visible and relevant – kicking it’s spurs into the sides of the dazed spectator to command attention and discussion.

  77. Ellen Datlow says:

    One of the stupider things I’ve heard of lately. I’m a feminist and (US) liberal and am totally against removing it. No censorship of art!

  78. JT says:

    I’ve lived in places where there is serious censorship. This gimmick trivialises the real sacrifices and risks taken by those around rhe world struggling for freedom. Ashamed of you.

  79. Joseph E. Davis says:

    This is absolutely outrageous. It’s a beautiful artwork. Modern day neo-Puritans must be vigorously resisted!

  80. This is so wrong. If The Manchester Art Gallery can’t bring itself to be sane about the well-known work of one of the most beloved artists in the world, please give or sell this painting to another gallery or museum that will exhibit it. You say it’s not about censorship, but it is, so own up to that. Every decision is about this or that, so it’s a judgement which is control on some level and people are human with biases and clearly this act exhibits a bias. The bias here is following the contemporary issue-du-jour and jumping on a bandwagon. You’re not provoking discussion by removing a beloved painting, you are inciting negative reactions. There are other ways to bring about discussion and the aim you say you want of exhibiting today’s artists, but this is not it. This is more wrong than you can understand, apparently.

  81. John Hodgson says:

    There are some really serious issues about how women are treated in contemporary society which are starting to be discussed properly – and you go and crap all over that wirh this puerile, pseudo-academic nonsense. Depressing – you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  82. Jacob says:

    You can’t hide something away and then pretend to have a discussion. Is this really the state of art education in the clickbait age? You mock the idea of in-depth discussion in favour of cheap controversy.

  83. Surrealistic says:

    I’m not for censorship. Let folks see it and form their own opinions.
    When I look at this painting and understand the Nymphs are luring him to his death, I see naked teenage girls in a lake about to commit murder. I can understand the historical context of the subjugation of women for the male gaze, but in today’s context of women shaking off gendered exceptions, a whole exhibition of murderesses in classic artwork would be bad ass. Sign me up.

  84. Alice Morgan says:

    This is a rotten decision. Please put the painting back, taking it from public view is equivalent to banning books.

  85. N.McB says:


    I’m sick to DEATH of PC ruining the arts. Nothing should ever be censored and nobody should be told what we are or aren’t permitted to see.

  86. Loretta Daugalis says:

    Please put the painting back. I think it has already all been said above. This stunt is not welcome.

  87. Harrison Jones says:

    I really wish I was the guy in that painting. Even if they are going to drown him, what a great way to go.

  88. Daniel Bronson says:

    This destructive decision, formulated in part by contemporary politics, sets a dreadful precedent. Shame on the Manchester Art Gallery. They have committed a moral crime.

  89. AndyT says:

    “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?”

    Requiring art to be relevant is philistinism.

  90. Sephera Giron says:

    I’m a 56 year old woman and love Waterhouse. I had several prints around the house when I had a house for over twenty years and this particular print was in a place of honour in my home office where I looked upon it every day.

    I saw Greek mythology most of the time. Sometimes I imagined it was Narcissus staring at his face reflection in the water and the water nymphs pulled him to his death. Sometimes I imagined other stories as I stared at the women and the man. Were they mermaids? Did they have legs? What else was in the water? Can the man swim? Had they ever seen a man before? It’s a marvelous writing prompt!

    I am a writer and the Waterhouse mermaid paintings inspired me for some of my stories. I had large prints and small postcard prints all around the house.

    I’ve never looked at any of these brilliant works of arts as “body parts” and certainly have never thought about pedophilia. I don’t know what is happening in this world today where people can’t wait to trash history instead of understanding where a work of art, whether a painting, a book, a piece of music, or film fits into history and the social/political climate it was created in.

    I thought we got past silly censorship situations in the eighties but apparently we’re going backward in time.

    I’m really worried about the state of young people these days who seem to need to be protected all the time. Protected from what? A work of art created by a human brain and human hands before TV or video games were invented. If your first thought at looking up classic, gorgeous art is “ooh, boobs” or “that’s pedophilia” then you need more psychological help than hiding a painting is going to get you.

  91. Kate says:

    I am really not a fan of social media and have never posted online before, but I was so upset after reading the Guardian article about the removal of Hylas and the Nymphs I felt I had to speak up. I have always loved art, particularly Pre-Raphaelite art. I can’t explain how much this painting means to me, one of the only happy memories I have from School was visiting this gallery and seeing this painting. I have been back to visit many times since, even bringing others with me, however after this I will not visit Manchester Art Gallery ever again (even if they choose to eventually reinstate the painting). I don’t know how anyone can describe this as artistic expression, at best the removal of this painting is a cheap and nasty publicity stunt, at worst an act of fascism. The only thing that Manchester Art Gallery could do to even slightly redeem themselves is to give this painting to a worthier gallery such as the Walker or Lady Lever. Again, just to put this in context I am a woman and a feminist. Congratulations Sonia Boyce and Manchester Art Gallery if discouraging people from visiting art galleries and turning them away from art is your main aim, then you have succeeded.

  92. Catherine Betz says:

    Restore this beautiful work of art to public view as it should be, or sell it to a gallery who will. Your pathetic pretense of generating conversation cannot hide your shrivel-hearted resentment of both female beauty and artistic merit.

  93. Joe Higman says:

    The myth of Hylas has Hercules falling in love with Hylas, and teaching him what he knows. Hylas meets the nymphs and disappears with them. Could we conjecture that Hylas is escaping a relationship based on an inbalance of power and turning to a more equal companionship? It seems to me tthat there is more than two ways of seeing this painting.

    Put it back so that people can work out their own visions of it. Removing it seems to assert that your way of looking at it is the only one.

  94. Julie Black says:

    What we are seeing here is little more than a passive aggressive version of censorship of what a few cultists consider “degenerate art”. It is not the modern world or modern sensibilities that have changed how we view these things, it is a clutch of moral scolds who expect the rest of us to be shamed by their neo-puritan preaching and fingerpointing. It is one step away from declaring things “degenerate art”.

    Less of the archaic moralism pretending to be socially relevant critique please.

  95. Hannah says:

    Hylas and the Nymphs is one of my favourite works by JW Waterhouse – who is my favourite painter – and I was sad to hear of its removal from the walls of Manchester’s art gallery. Whether it’s part of a temporary ‘stunt’ or more permanent ‘removal’, I feel this act disregards both the mastery of the artist as well as the content of the composition. This painting evokes the power of women over men, visualising a significant metaphor, the entrancing yet simultaneously empty expressions of the nymphs draws the gaze of both the viewer in the scene and the viewer in the gallery. I have spent minutes on end enthralled by this painting and the magic and mystery it alludes too and I will be greatly saddened if it disappears from Manchester art gallery’s for good due to current waves in sexual ‘correctness’. I am a young woman and consider myself an ardent feminist, this painting does not, and has never, offended me. Rather for me it highlights not only the beauty of the small female form (versus say Rossetti’s voluptuous depictions) but the ongoing power and particularly strength found in female group solidarity in approaching – and disarming – male figures. I hope this work will be restored to its rightful place soon, otherwise my visits to the gallery may be far less frequent.

  96. DMS says:

    There must be at least 100 better ways to promote discussion and debate on this topic than by taking the painting down. No matter how you try to explain it away, it is, indeed, censorship, and it’s insulting to our intelligence to try and pretend otherwise.

  97. Simon says:

    Such a silly idea….the kind of move that makes me think that some people really have too much time on their hands.

  98. John Rice says:

    Please put Waterhouse back. Removing it is a puerile gesture that does nothing for the cause of women.

  99. Waterhouse Fan says:

    I still have a postcode of Hylas and the Nymphs at home, will Sonia Boyce and Manchester Art Gallery be coming to my house next to remove that as well?

  100. Rufus T Firefly says:

    When you say “group gallery takeover”, do you mean “pretentious dicking about”?
    I’m sure our city’s overseas visitors will marvel at the bare wall and celebrate how edgy you’ve been. Well done.

  101. Tom Harrison says:

    Art is supposed to reflect the entirety of the human condition. Surely this includes exploring male desire, and men’s fear of female power, which is what this painting represents. It is a snapshot of male anxiety just at a time when women were starting to win more freedom. It tells a tale from our history, which is exactly what museums are supposed to do. Manchester Gallery should present their art to the public and allow them to judge, not hide it away, which is tantamount to cultural theft.

  102. Joe Bergeron says:

    Give me a break. Waterhouse was an outstanding artist, and this is a great painting. Either put it back on your wall or hand it over to some less delicate museum that is willing to display it.

  103. marty says:

    I think I’ll just stay away period. There’s too much of this political correctness being forced by progressives.

  104. Marc Blanc says:

    This is reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s van of decadent art & Iran’s morality police forcing women to cover up. Whoever did this clearly has no appreciation of art & should be sacked

  105. Ron says:

    This important work of art clearly means a lot to people. Why does the gallery and this ‘artist’ have the right to prevent people from seeing it? Reading
    The comments here I can see that some people have travelled far to see it. Also the website still
    Lists it as being on display. This is unacceptable. This ridiculous kind of political statement would be more suited to the Tate perhaps? Where unmade beds and urinals are considered art. Removing a piece of art because it offends you is not art. I urge the gallery to reinstate as soon as possible.

  106. Joseph Clarke says:

    I have visited the gallery twice in the last month, and remember studying this painting.

    Perhaps instead of taking it down, the gallery could display contrasting works along side. This could provide the balance you are looking for, and would allow the visitor to come to their own conclusions.

  107. Emma says:

    Maybe the removal of this painting by the artist says more about the City Gallery and the inability of their staff to effectively curate this work or make it relevant in the contemporary world of 2018. Why not rotate works from the collection more often or have Victorian works displayed alongside contemporary perspectives?
    Let’s hope Hylas and the Nymphs can now be moved to a more engaging space!

  108. Marcus Maxwell says:

    The only “conversation” this ridiculous act seems to have provoked is about whether it’s a good idea to remove pictures the museum team don’t want us to see. Perhaps if you put it back we could have a conversation about sexuality, gender politics, concepts of beauty etc. which the painting in itself is likely to engender.

  109. P Smithy says:

    >How could artworks speak in more contemporary, relevant ways?

    It’s a Victorian painting. It “speaks” from its own time. You’re trying to force it to “speak” in contemporary ways to the 21st century? If humans ever make it to a 22nd century what do you think your “provocation” (stunt/ gimmick/ banal advertisement) will “speak” about our time to future people?

    This is “art” now. The chatter about art has replaced the art. Still you have your gravy train to ride, right?

  110. Elaine says:

    All of this… All. Of. This. This is just going to a place I can never go, would never want to go. Why not hide Michelangelo’s Pietà in a moldy basement, lest a woman who’s chosen to remain childless feel shamed by the perceived glorification of motherhood, or a mother who has lost a child be “triggered” by having to look at it. You want to start a conversation? I’m so sick of these kinds of conversations, I could shoot myself. And if you didn’t know the myth of Hylas, you could make up any one of a million stories that would fit this painting. Maybe the guy lost his friends in the woods and the mermaids are giving him directions? Put the freaking painting back up.

  111. Frankie says:

    As a female realist artist and a feminist, this act is offensive to me as a feminist and as an artist. The removal of this or of any art work in order to engage in some sort of dialogue about the female body? Does this mean that no one can ever paint a nude female ever again? Or can women only be represented as strong nudes? What does that constitute? You can’t take a painting out of its context and say, there are nude women, therefore this represents the eons during which the female body has been inscribed with performative norms. This act demonstrates what is profoundly wrong with the art world. Sophomores (no matter what age, it is a type of thinking that lacks sophistication) intent on controlling the dialogue on art from a insular academic standpoint are now hijacking works of art to make a point, to incite dialogue? Have your discussion all you want, be honest about your motivations, don’t manipulate people to engage them, which is what this is. If I lived in Manchester, I would look into how much funding the parties are getting for thinking this up and actually going through with it. Your tax dollars at work!

  112. Elaine says:

    Looked into this further and have decided you think that removing the painting and having people put notes about it on the wall is, itself, some sort of art. Group Gallery Takeover? It isn’t art. It’s just pretentious BS. If you haven’t already put the painting back, put it back.

  113. MakeMPsOwnUp says:

    Not provoking conversation but promoting censorship.

  114. Josef K. says:

    “Starting a conversation,” nice anodyne attempt to hide your pearl clutching. I’m surprised you just didn’t put the nymphs in burkas. Your mission should be to help preserve culture and not to become part of the vanguard attempting to destroy it. Anyone involved with this nonsense should not be working in GLAM industries.

  115. Dante D'Anthony says:

    Heracles took Hylas with him on the Argo, making him one of the Argonauts. Hylas was kidnapped by nymphs of the spring of Pegae, Dryope, that fell in love with him in Mysia and vanished without a trace (Apollonios Rhodios). This upset Heracles greatly, so he along with Polyphemus searched for a great length of time. The ship set sail without them. According to the Latin Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus, he never found Hylas because he had fallen in love with the nymphs and remained “to share their power and their love.” Not really seeing how this diminishes women.

  116. Julian Cattaneo says:

    Put the painting back. This removal is one of the stupidest decisions an art gallery has ever made.

  117. Art Collector says:

    Put it Back, did you leave a blank space or perhaps only allow certain people to see it as they used to do at Pompeii? Did you ask the public before your desperate attempt at attention and relevance? Are your questions only referencing celebrity recent events? If not, why are you only doing it now. You have had quite a lot of time to ask this question, and this isn’t a new development.

  118. Amelia says:

    Removing the work to discuss it?! What idiocy! That’s like saying let’s have a book club to discuss this book but wait, let me burn them all first. Pure ignorance.

  119. Theodora Goss says:

    I am so very disappointed in you, Manchester Art Gallery! As a university lecturer teaching the art and literature of the fin-se-siecle, I teach this painting, which is one of my favorites. It’s a glorious work of art, and one that people deserve to see. If you do not wish to display it, please sell it to a museum that will treat it with more care and respect. Taking it away from the public to prompt “conversation” is juvenile–there is nothing daring or genuinely intellectual in what you are doing. If you want a conversation, teach the public about the painting, and about pre-Raphaelite art, which does not get much respect anyway. Teach the concept of the femme fatale–teach the New Woman and the suffrage movement of that time. Teach about aestheticism. But any museum should be better than this–I am so very disappointed in how gimmicky this entire process is! Really, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  120. Marj says:

    I am sick and saddened to see that the Waterhouse painting is to be removed due to modern ideals of sexuality or nudity. It’s a beautiful piece of art with historical significance. What is wrong with you people censoring art?

  121. James Gurney says:

    Isn’t it more accurate to regard the painting as an image of female power? Hylas was a member of the Argonauts sent to fetch water, and the painting shows the fateful moment when the nymphs kidnap him into their realm. They are hardly a ‘passive decorative form’ but rather forceful enough to abduct one of the favorites of Heracles. Nor were they femme fatales, because they didn’t kill Hylas; Dryope induced him to love her as part of Hera’s plan.

    So, Clare Gannaway and Sonya Boyce, when you’re ready to end this embarrassing publicity stunt, please replace the painting. You can ‘contextualize’ it with whatever caption you like, but why not let the public have access to a beloved work of art that predates you, because you are a trustee of that public interest, and what is a Museum but a haven of the muses?

  122. William Hawkins says:

    This is not the first time that “Hylas and the Nymphs” has been removed from a wall. Back in the 80’s, a beautiful New Age friend here in LA hung a large print as the centerpiece of her tastefully erotic sitting room. She saw the painting as a subtle expression of the beauty of youth and the enticements of budding sexuality. I admit I took a bit of malicious glee in explaining that in another minute those beautiful girls would drown that handsome boy amidst their fragrant lilies. It totally popped her bubble and she took it down the next day.

    Since the only reason I have ever considered going to either Manchester or Birmingham is the quality of their pre-Raphaelite collections, I decided to check out the museum’s website. The first thing I noticed is that one of the featured artworks is William Etty’s “The Sirens and Ulysses”, an image rather startling in its vulgarity — the sirens look like they just escaped from 60’s Soho. The nymphs of Hylas look like a Girl Guides swimming outing in comparison.

    Having browsed through virtually your entire collection on, I could count scarcely 20 paintings having any kind of female nudity or potentially dangerous women. You also have hardly any headliners in your collection, Hylas being one of the few. Your gallery is virtually sexless. So the idea that your “takeover” is going to somehow shatter centuries of ruthless Manchester misogyny is laughable. I think rather than the current empty space, you should move in Therese Lessore’s “Let’s Go Home, Sis!”, which may not upset people so much

    The fundamental problem in your approach is that you want to suppress the mythic feminine, which contains many levels of ambiguity and danger. The romantics and pre-Raphaelites were obsessed with these myths and achieved a masterful retelling. But obviously any nymphs, sirens, harpies, lorelei, undines,
    silkies, amazons and fairy ladies in dark forest springs need not apply to Manchester.

    Bram Dijsktra’s “Idols of Perversity” is the most comprehensive study of the bizarre and systematic male hysteria against women in 19th century art. If you want to have a serious discussion on that topic, you could organize an exhibition of some of those paintings. Sacrificing Waterhouse’s subtly erotic retelling of the Hylas myth in the service of your shallow social media “takeover’ stunt is really too, too bad.

  123. Kerwin says:

    A conversation by taking art hostage is not something that can be reasonably had by creating duress. An act of PC vandalism–a stunt that should have been rejected out of hand, not put up for internet “conversation.” Deeply disappointed in the Manchester Art Gallery. A failure of judgement that will hopefully be remembered as one the 21st century’s greatest crimes against our culture and art.

  124. Dr Paul Wilson says:

    I am very familiar with this painting and it is one of my all time favourites. I looked at it many times alongside all the Lowries. I could swear it was on permanent exhibition in the Salford City Art Gallery adjacent to the Salford CAT (later a University) when I was an engineering student from 1962 to 1968.
    It is a truly beautiful painting with masterly execution, balance, an exceptional palette; just a delight to look at. I wish my own paintings were 1% as good.
    As to interpretation it could vary from, “hello girls, taking a dip are you? I just came to fill my jug with water.” to a young man being led into temptation and it could be a metaphor for all kinds of temptation. I never, ever saw it as a representation of naked female bodies, nor as sexual in any way at all. The naked breasts are almost incidental – just look at the use of purple in the lily pads instead. Nor is there anything sexist about it and to even suggest such a thing is to attach to it a false attribute that just isn’t there. I grew up in Burnley in the 1950s where factory supervisors were called “overlookers” – non sexist language and I was taught to treat people with respect (also non sexist). Most families were two income and most women worked in the mill and men cooked and cleaned. Maybe that is why I never saw anything sexual or sexist in this lovely painting.
    Finally: no-one tells me what to think. And I allow no-one to dictate to me what paintings I may or may not view. So please, please get rid of your misconceptions about the painting and put it back on the walls where it belongs.

  125. Awoo Tang-Clan says:

    This is a classic artpiece, Beautiful to the eye and by a master painter. Put it back.

  126. James says:

    pathetic choice.

  127. Artist for life says:

    Whom ever is responsible for this is not interested in protection they are interested in censorship and control of freedom of expression. Plain a simple.


    Could you please, please, PLEASE sell this artwork to the Philadelphia Museum of Art? You don’t want it and many Philadelphians passionately do. I’m sure we can raise the money to buy your unwanted art.

  129. Alex says:

    I’m not a Brit, but I think it sounds like you’re rolling over for iconoclasts. To the extent that Waterhouse’s painting is reliant on what came before, it is a symbiotic relationship – Classical myth benefits from this visual depiction just as the painting benefits from its context. Taking it down, on the other hand, is purely parasitic.

  130. Jeff says:

    This the height of absurdity. The censors have taken over in the name of political correctness and this getting out of hand. This is really the height of stupidity and seems like the kind of thing an adolescent would do. Pathetic.

  131. Waterhouse Fan says:

    1985 called and wants its victim feminism back.

  132. Joe Baker says:

    What wonderfully ‘artistic’ timing of you to create this stunt.
    Lets sow division, eh, where there was previously none.
    There is no debate to be had other than what society should do with the socialist puritans that seem to be running the show.
    Censor art at your peril.

  133. Paula R. says:

    You don’t deserve that beautiful piece of art. Don’t hide it, give it to a museum or a gallery that truly appreciates it and is not contaminated by this modern garbage of political correctness.

  134. The very act of removing Waterhouses’ masterpiece is an act of censorship.

    You should be ashamed for being in the vanguard of this.

    Next we will have another Bonfire of the Vanities, correct? Will you be the first to throw Waterhouses’ work on the fire of the rising puritanical tide?

    As an artist I find your move absolutely reprehensible

  135. Richard Jowett says:

    I will boycott the gallery unless this magnificent painting is not returned to display.

  136. Jonathan Partridge says:

    How about leaving the paintings where they are and letting the visitor decide what they want to look at and how they view each piece. When we start to go down the road of someone deciding what we should see or not see, it’s a dangerous road. Who decides and what criteria do they use? Everyone has different views. If you don’t want to see a piece of art you won’t go to the art gallery. If you do see a piece you didn’t expect to then maybe your views and understanding will be challenged – after all isn’t that what art’s all about?

  137. Patrick Dempsey says:

    Not sure what’s worse, the Post Modern Prudishness, or the exploitation of classic art to promote Post Modern agendas that certainly nothing in the Contemporary collection would illicit because quite frankly there’s mot a single work in the Contemporary collection that anyone would give a damn if it was removed. Keep on walking on the backs of giants while proclaiming yourselves the real giants, fools.

  138. Taylor says:

    Others have already expressed my thoughts: the removal of this painting shows an appalling disrespect for the general public, who apparently must be shielded from art deemed politically incorrect. I can’t help thinking that somewhere in Afghanistan those responsible for destroying the Buddhas of Bamiyam must be cheering.

  139. Chris Cain says:

    Utterly ridiculous. It’s a great painting depicting classical myth.

  140. Angela Buckley says:

    I think if the gallery wants to mount an exhibition about perceptions of beauty or bodies then it should do so. It could contrast other works with it’s Victorian collection. But just removing this particular painting feeling like a silly stunt which has annoyed a great many gallery visitors. Hylas isn’t Harvey Weinstein.

  141. stephen rawlinson says:

    I’m quite sad to see one of my favourite and most challenging pieces removed from display. Everything in life had to be put into context with time. Our modern way of living is very much about ‘me’ & ‘now’. This picture forces an audience to break those modern ideals. As a male I feel drawn into the painting & wanting to enter the water just like our make subject. But I am fully aware of the sinister nature and the dangers that would entail. I think the picture in its current form already does a superb job of challenging male sexualised ideals.

  142. Gary Amer says:

    Brilliant job you have actually succeeded in getting a proper debate underway .
    With interesting reactions in both directions just as F1 has got rid of its ladies having decided they are outdated.
    Discussing how we view the human form is interesting let us hope there will not be an over reaction to this move

  143. Johann Potakowskyj says:

    Remembering the 60th and 70th of the last century the communist party paid artists to perform “agit prop” street theater showing a women cooking, while a Dr. Frankstein styled male monster performed sexual intercorse … women also performed naked to protest to show their freedom to do so. Same time a young generation overthrow a lot of common habits and performed a culture without classes and equal gender and freedom of sexuality.
    We all forget, that the thing we call political correctness was a creation of the Stalinist propaganda to alienate bloody philistines, which they think is a way to knuckle down their influence replacing it with a Marxist culture.

    I remember also the protests in the beginning of this century when statues of naked humans where taken away from public space in Turkey ignoring our constitutional state of freedom of the arts.

    I have to admit I am not at all into this romantic aesthetic art of the 19th century this painting represents. For that being an artist myself I am to take up with any attempt to take art as hostage of any kind of political propaganda trying to destruct the artists’ freedom attempting to get a hand on our free world same time.

    The most successful Stalinist propaganda of political correctness survived the crackup of the Soviet Union and got even more successful.

    Please do not fall for it!
    Put this painting back on the wall.

  144. Rd miller says:

    Do what is typical in today’s world, tear it down, burn it call it racist and sexist. God forbid see any beauty in it. Better yet raze your gallery, that will start a better conversation.

  145. Evelyn Hall says:

    This is not about Feminism. This is a trend that is very worrying and appears to be attempting to appease the backward, prudish and the easily offended in 2018. Who is the Gallery really worried about offending? What an insult to one of the world’s best loved painters and an irony that some historians labelled the Victorians as prudish and inhibited. The Gallery should permanently loan the painting to say the Tate Britain or or perhaps the Royal Academy or the National Gallery in London or consider selling it. Better still, ask the public what they want and not a couple of dissenting voices. How long before nudes are removed altogether from the Gallery and perhaps other art galleries around Britain?

  146. Iain Ross says:

    Might I suggest a big bonfire of the vanities next, à la Savonarola? Perhaps an exhibition of degenerate art, to provoke discussion and conversation?Down with anything that is not relevant and contemporary!

  147. francis pettitt says:

    I suspect this has something to do with not offending some Muslim sensibilities in Manchester. A similar thing happened when the nude statues in the Vatican were covered up on the occasion of a visit by the Iranian president last year. You are disguising this fact by inventing a story about changing sensibilities towards women. Do let me know if I am wrong….

  148. Pabs says:

    Totally ridiculous move. Except for the purposes of publicity. Now restore the painting. Does this means that Greek goddesses in museums are next? Is this the Taliban taking over?

  149. kelvin butcher says:

    This is not about ‘political correctness’ and wowserism, it is about provoking discussion, and it has done that! Sexism, misogyny, pedophilia in art are issues which transcend history, and Victorian art should not be immune from criticism and reassessment simply because it happens to present nudity is a coyly sweet and fluffy manner. . We have reassessed the photography of Charles Dodgson as quite possibly pedophilic and exploitative, why not the art of other prominent Victorians ? Or, shall we rehang all those racist paintings which depict slavery and anti-semitism, simply because we believe in the purity and untouchability of historical artworks. No-one is going to destroy Hylas and the Nymphs (that would be ‘political correctness’) but old ideas about art, politics and women must be critiqued: not be able to talk about such things openly is where the real ‘political correctness’ lies.

  150. John Smith says:

    If you had simply rotated it with another work then people would barely notice. By declaring that you want to open a conversation, you are effectively dangling a power of censorship over us. Are you going to cleanse art work that relates to our imperial past? To promote the ‘conversation’ you should leave these allegedly controversial works up.

    This is a dangerous precedent when applied in this context.

  151. Loraine says:

    This is so wrong. How can we learn about the past & our history if articles, paintings, etc. are removed from sight. Where do we draw the line? Do we also remove articles from museums such as the Tate Modern, thinking of Tracy Emin, or take it further & suggest to the world that the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel should be covered also!

  152. Juan Ruiz says:

    This is ridiculous, plain and simple.
    If you were doing this with a painting by a current painter living today then the painter could have some way of responding either in writing, with a statement, or through another painting. But JW Waterhouse is long gone and so is the way women were viewed back then. And not only that but he was painting a scene from a myth that was around at least 2500 years ago. And I challenge anyone to show how this painting is demeaning to women in any way.
    Instead of provoking conversation you are pushing people to the other side of where you want them to be. Because it is obvious on what side you want them to be. Just put the painting back and come up with a truly intelligent way of provoking discussion on sexism and the “male gaze”.

  153. David says:

    What’s next, removing penises from Greek statues because of some goofy crackpot idea the wacko curator is trying to shove down the throat of the viewing public! Perhaps the sight of naked breasts is too confronting for the curator to bear! Stop trying to tell us the public how we should interpret particular paintings and let us decide for ourselves. Why not just remove every single painting that features the female form that you obviously find offensive for some reason and close the gallery for good! Fortunately, you can still find the painting on the internet or do you plan to remove images of the painting from there too?

  154. Mark Sutton says:

    Works should be shown for their artistic and historic merit only. The decision to remove this works seems like pandering to a politically motivated agenda which would mark a dangerous precident. The issue of female nudity can not seriously be considered a motivation for it’s removal – artists have been depicting the human form – both male and female – for centuries. I fear it is a response to a religious and political drive towards a new puritanism and away from the views of the enlightenment that we should be promoting.

  155. Angela M says:

    If you don’t like the badge “in pursuit of beauty” , change the badge, don’t hide the picture. You are in danger of making women ashamed of nudity and of sending a message that it should be hidden. The message that those who resemble a classic pre-Rafaelite should be particularly puritan. Education, not censorship is the way to go. I have been a feminist all my life but love this painting. To me the women are not ashamed and not disempowered objects. Do not hide the history you don’t agree with. Explain it and let people are up their own minds.

  156. J. Carl Henderson says:

    The removal of Hylas and the Nymphs wasn’t about “interpreting” or “contextualizing” anything. It is an act born of out of the cognitive dissonance that contemporary artists experience when confronted by a work by a master like Waterhouse and realize—but can never admit—that they lack the skill to ever match or exceed it. So they spout off some nonsense about issues of “gender, race, sexuality and class”, and take down what a painting that stands as a silent accusation of their own shortcomings.

  157. Lee Jones says:

    “How could artworks speak in more contemporary, relevant ways?”

    This comment betrays a fundamental misconception about the role of cultural institutions like art galleries. Their task is not to make cultural artefacts from the past “contemporary” and “relevant”, as if all that matters is our present day. Their task is to situate these artefacts and explain them to the public. The whole idea behind removing this painting is completely flawed. It is censorious, suggesting that aspects of the past that make (some of) us uncomfortable today should not be shown, displayed or discussed. This is a Puritanical and historically illiterate notion. Put the painting back, and don’t do anything like this again.

  158. David Newton says:

    If the removal was “playful”, why does absolutely everyone regard it as censorship? Why didn’t you have the confidence to reorganise the galleries and shuffle the pictures around to provoke a “conversation”, as you so patronisingly call it? London galleries like the Tate have been doing it for years…it keeps the viewers…and staff…on their toes. Put a homoerotic image or sculpture next to the Waterhouse, to redress the balance. And please don’t encourage a future conversation to take place via Post-It Notes…it shows how little you regard the other side of the discussion. And if this was all a publicity stunt to boost flagging attendance figures…it’s probably backfired, as you’ve removed most people’s reason to come.

  159. Christopher Coppock says:

    Fair play to Clare Gannaway, as a curator, for being prepared to front up to the brickbats, that have inevitably been unleashed by what is, lest we forget, a conceptual ‘intervention’ conceived by commissioned artist, Sonia Boyce.

    Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the temporary removal of this artwork, at least the curator is not attempting to hide behind the license of artistic freedom, which so often happens when controversy raises its head in contemporary art discourse .

    As such Gannaway has exposed herself personally to some fairly damning professional criticism, that I imagine she will learn from, ruefully or otherwise. I respect her honesty and sense of curatorial responsibility on this account.

  160. Anthony says:

    This decision seems to be based upon a received perception of Victorian values.

    It’s a beautiful picture which in any case depicts a mythological event. In psychological terms it might be best viewed as a conflict between archetypal forms rather than a representation of the natural human being.

    Please put it back.

  161. Stephen Lewis says:

    Is this what “feminism” hs become? The blatant censorship of works of art, of beauty, of woman triumphant? How many women want art galleries to be turned into pathetic ‘safe spaces’? What is wrong with this work, with this world?
    If MGA doesn’t want this painting, I’ll gladly take it off their hands.

  162. Lynne says:

    Utterly ridiculous and irritating. OK so a temporary removal it may be, but such a banal, facile and yet potentially dangerous (in terms of the censorship element) way to comment on the important subject of gender politics. Just put the work back, and think of a better way to have the discussion.

  163. Av Franklin Stewart says:

    So basically my or any woman’s breasts are offensive now? This is extremely worrying.
    This establishment is out of touch and help whipping up the modern day equivalent of the the Spanish Inquisition.

    Shameful behaviour by a publically funded body, how dare they tell people what is or isn’t art. I find the sawn in half cow far more offensive than any portrait of a naked person. This was just beautiful. My favourite piece in the gallery. No more trips or donations from me. Boycott Manchester art gallery until they get off their high horses.

  164. Paul says:

    The Taliban would be pleased with this decision!

    If the criteria for making art must be that it won’t offend anybody, then art would not be worth making.

    Granted, this could be regarded Victorian soft porn, but it’s a beautiful and much loved painting, clearly out of step with modern sensibilities and which therefore prompts a debate in the viewers mind about the context in which the art is made.

  165. Penny K says:

    Please put it back! I understand you want a debate, but in the meantime you are depriving visitors who come to Manchester to see the collection from viewing it. You don’t need to remove it to have the discussion. As someone who loves visiting cities to see the art collections, and then finding it has been removed deeply frustrating!

  166. Mel Powell says:

    How can we develop knowledge of the Male Gaze in art, how the Victorians dealt with their combined longing for/fear of female sexuality by cultural distancing and Waterhouse’s ‘othering’ of the nymphs/the feminine by placing them in the element of water if we can’t actually look at the pictures? (All good themes in feminist art criticism, by the way.)

    Please return Hylas and the Nymphs to its place as soon as possible, and run a screening of the relevant episode from John Berger’s BBC TV series ‘Ways of Seeing’ if you would like to help visitors in reading it through a critical perspectives lens!

  167. Gregory Wright says:

    Are you going to stop displaying Greek sculptures next?

  168. Jonathan says:

    This may not be “about censorship”, as the relevant curator so quaintly put it, but it is. It reminds one of the Third Reich’s removal (and destruction) of what it considered “degenerate art”. Apparently we are still not deemed mature enough to make our own judgements about works of art without PC commentary or “contextualisation”. A disgraceful episode. the MAG should be ashamed of itself for sanctioning such arrant nonsense.

  169. Racxhel says:

    Surely the painting is extremely relevant to the current campaigns? I thought the “message” was clearly that a young man will be lured to his doom when bedazzled by the nymphs. Ie acting as a reaction to physical charms with no thought for the outcome will only turn out badly.

  170. Lib Eral says:

    I’ve always found Rudolf Ihlee’s “The Well” to be incredibly offensive, with its blatant depiction of a domineering patriarchy. And early 20th century manspreading. Can you burn that one too, please?

  171. Marina says:

    This is going too far. You cannot see the paintings of the 19th century with the eyes of the 21th century. People should go inside this room and learn about this period and the mentality instead of try not to offense the mentality of our period. Its called History. It’s so sad that curators today are trying to do somethibg new by imposing their beliefs, not a very professional beliefs. Please, reconsider the stupidity that you are doing and let visitors enjoy this beautiful painting.

  172. Mike Bates says:

    A silly and condescending act, and illogical- if you remove a work from view, how can that “prompt conversation” and “provoke debate” except among those who already know what it looks like? And there’s a whiff of evasiveness and dishonesty about the gallery’s account of its intentions. In comment 11 above, Clare Gannaway refers to “taking down the painting temporarily”; but she is quoted in The Guardian as saying “We think it will *probably* return…” (my emphasis). The MAG should confirm that it will, and give a date (preferably tomorrow’s).

    In my view, one (but only one) of the impulses behind Victorian art of this sort was indeed that it gave the artist an excuse to indulge himself in the depiction of naked female flesh, for the titillation of the male gaze. But however deplorable we may find this, we can’t airbrush away the past: the attitudes existed and the works exist- and are not devoid of artistic merit, and deserve to be seen.

    As to how they should be contextualised, Gannaway is quoted as saying that the current title of the gallery, In Pursuit of Beauty, “was a bad one, as it was male artists pursuing women’s bodies, and paintings that presented the female body as a passive decorative art form or a femme fatale.” But surely this is precisely what they are, however much the 21stC may deplore it? The problem, I fear, is that we are not trusted to view them in the correct frame of mind without being given a nudge by the curators. An earlier comment on this page put it perfectly: “It really does not need some vacuous gesture to make the issues this painting throws up visible to any thinking person, and the condescension that says WE have found it necessary to remove this from YOUR sight to teach you something is breathtaking”.

  173. Matt says:

    What a disgrace. Presentism should never be applied to works of art – or any other piece of history. It is how we wind up revisionist history altered by people for no good reason but to further their own agendas.

  174. John William Waterhouse’s painting of Hylas and the Nymphs belongs to the world and should continue to be displayed to the public. Waterhouse’s works displays the human form in beauty through our western art traditions, including mythology, a tradition that goes back thousands of years. Why is the museum not proud to house and display these gorgeous works? When censorship like this comes knocking it is time to be alarmed. People come from around the world come to see these paintings like this one, and they are important on many levels. Without them…we are all poorer.

  175. J Conlon says:

    No work has a ‘right’ to be displayed. Removing and highlighting the fact of removal is a valid response to the current debate. You could have just took the painting off display as part of a general reorganisation, but that would have been cowardly. Well done MAG. (Plus, it’s a pretty poor piece of Victorian tat.)

  176. “The conversation”. What’s the actual agenda, eh?Just be honest.

    If you don’t want the picture, there are lots of galleries who’d be proud to own it.

  177. Jane says:

    How ridiculous; this is art, not a political statement. And it’s bloody good art, at that.

  178. Mick Greenway says:

    An utterly pathetic action. As censorship always is.

  179. Jack Ravenhill says:

    What a sad day indeed when Pre-Raphaelite paintings are deemed too outré to be viewed by the public.

    It seems far more paternalistic for curators to decide for viewers what they will find ‘offensive’ and censor the exhibits accordingly, than anything depicted in the painting. If Manchester Art Gallery really wanted to stimulate debate then they should said why some might disapprove of the painting, leaving it up for people to form their own opinions.

    Ironically, the Victorians are often satirized as being prudish and puritanical. Yet here in the 21st Century, it is us censoring Victorian works of art portraying nudity.

  180. Frank J.L. De Clercq says:

    Small people..

  181. Olly Hawes says:

    Please don’t erase the past, our exposure to it allows us to learn about the present and the future. Please don’t censor, it insults your visitors by removing their ability to choose how they react. Please put the painting back up.

  182. Oliver says:

    Another factor to consider in this dismal affair. No-one would find Hylas erotic in our era, so the purpose of removing it is to make some half-digested curatorial point about the ‘male gaze’ in history. But in doing so, it unwittingly mirrors the contemporary sexual censorship of extreme patriarchal societies such as Saudi Arabia, which enforce ‘modesty’ with censure and even violence. This is a regressive and anti-intellectual action. Plus, the art gallery is paid for by the public and is for the public. It is holding these artworks on public trust as part of our shared heritage. You are damaging that trust.

  183. Richard says:

    I think it was justified to remove the obscene harlots shown in the painting. Instead, you should use the vacated spot to put up posters of strong, emancipated feminist women like Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus.

  184. Malcolm Wilkinson says:

    A truly tragic, small minded publicity stunt, where a gallery jumps on a convenient passing bandwagon. What a disappointment.

  185. Elaine Macdonald says:

    I find painting representing violence towards both men and women, usually in the guise of illustrating an historical or biblical event, far more disturbing than female nudity.
    I choose to go into a gallery and gaze at this or other nudes and I can walk by or linger. I have a choice and I want that choice.
    Yes, there will be other wonderful paintings in storage but that is an argument for more gallery space not censorship.

  186. Sarah says:

    I’m really shocked by this decision. I grew up in Manchester and I love this painting. When I come back to Manchester, seeing it is always one of the highlights on my list. I was always proud that we had it in Manchester – it seemed so much more beautiful than so many of the gallery’s other paintings. I used to assume that it would be poached by a southern gallery at some point and was always pleased to see that it was still safely there. As a teenage girl, I had a print of this on my bedroom wall and often popped into MAG when I was passing to see it displayed there. I always saw it as entirely empowering – it’s the young girls in the painting who are powerful, not Hylas. It’s partly the trust in Hylas’s face that I used to find so moving and partly just the strength of the emotion in that central gaze – despite the painting’s title and theme, the gaze between Hylas and the central nymph isn’t lecherous and it isn’t coquettish, either; it’s a depiction of love – misguided young love, with all its passionate strength and hope and misjudgement. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful painting, too: the facial expressions are so realistic – much more so than in many paintings of the same era, and the detail is so carefully observed. By all means change the name of the room it’s in, or put the painting somewhere else (I’m sure it used to be above the stairs for a long time), but it would be extraordinarily wasteful not to display it at all. I also think that this whole conversation misunderstands what Manchester Art Gallery is for: its role should be to safeguard and display the city’s best art and preserve its historical collection – there are plenty of other galleries which can (and do) comment on the world around us and which make political decisions about exhibitions, but that really shouldn’t be MAG’s role.

  187. Bob Evans says:

    This decision is not ‘art’ in any way, it is just pathetically stupid…..Balthus, Eric Gill, Titian, Ingres…. come on, what else OFFENDS?? this po-faced pretence at engaging is offensive

  188. jane shallice says:

    I want it back on the walls. I have always thought that the Musee D’Orsay is an exemplar – after seeing their L’origine du monde. We need contentious art to be on the walls…

  189. Steve says:

    I thought the whole point of an art gallery was to promote discussion about art by, you know, actually displaying art. If you don’t want to do that why not give it to a gallery that will.

  190. Dr Leigh says:

    This is the height of the new philistinism, treating a painting as a mere ideological object, an excuse to indulge in 21st century identity politics.

    I don’t imagine the tax payers of Manchester contribute to the gallery with the idea that populars works held in public collections should be hidden from them in order to advance a particular, reductive political agenda.

    Put the painting back.

  191. John Smith says:

    Experiments like this and the thinking that goes into it are symptomatic of the wider trend of contemporary political thinking. It’s not thought provoking – it’s divisive. It doesn’t make the viewer “think” it simply guides the viewer towards the political bias of the institute/artist. The most insidious part of this is the pretense of the conversation when in fact it is just systematic censorship.

  192. Charles Kenderdine says:

    This is clearly censorship because this one picture seems to have been singled out. As a 66 year old man who “discovered” Waterhouse a few years ago, I do not find paintings such as this at all arousing – just beautiful in the composition and content. To me it represents Greek mythology as an artist sees it. It seems to me that those who have removed the picture must be frightened of bodies, whether male or female and perhaps therefore of their own (which is sad.) I agree entirely with Ms Morgan’s email of 31st January but clearly from a different perspective!

  193. Karina Vrijdaghs says:

    OMG. Soon we will only be allowed to see flowers and landscapes as main art themes. No naked anymore (no male, no female), no animals, no blood, no religion, no nothing. Very, very sad ! Stupidity in its very essence. The people behind this decision have not understood what art is all about, so please remove THEM from the art gallery.

  194. Ian morris says:

    Shame on you, would you censor Lucian Freud?

  195. Michael Newton says:

    To me, this is a beautiful painting, still, calm, and entranced, that brings Greek myth to what is clearly a visionary English wood.
    As others have remarked, the myth involved is a complex one, and on one level the nymphs are ‘femmes fatales’; but, as any reader of William Morris’ Life and Death of Jason would know (and that would very likely have included Waterhouse himself), it is the nymphs who desire Hylas, and they do not lead him to destruction but to paradisal bliss: ‘Forgetting the rough world, and every care; Not dead, nor living, among faces fair, White limbs, and wonders of the watery world’. Perhaps such images of quietness, of bliss, and of the beauty of a young man and of young women are compromised, or corrupt, or corrupting. Personally, I doubt that.
    Maybe, too, we are unhappy with the representation of the ‘femme fatale’, and would happily also ban Mulholland Drive, The Big Sleep, and Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci – and then, to get rid of the ‘homme fatale’, Dracula, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights too, and then right after that we could purge the human psyche.
    Meanwhile, the job of a gallery is to act as custodian of pictures of recognised excellence, and to provide a space where visitors can encounter such paintings, engage with them, perhaps dislike them, or be moved by them, but certainly to reflect upon them. To do so, you need to be in the presence of that painting, and not standing before a blank bit of wall.
    We cannot cut ourselves off from the art of the past, just because it challenges us. It is not a ‘playful’ act to play ‘hide and seek’ with paintings; rather it’s a betrayal of our deep need to step out of the provincialism of the present and confront views of the world that might make us uncomfortable, but might also (as I think this painting does) offer us beauty.
    It’s clear to me from reading the earlier comments, that what the ‘conversation’ prompted by the gallery’s removal of the painting has revealed is how much people like Waterhouse’s painting. And therefore, I would hope that the end result of this conversation is that it’s put back on the walls of the Manchester Art Gallery where it belongs, or loaned to another gallery who would be happy to show it.

  196. Ofelia says:

    I am so sad right now.

  197. Elena Tchougounova-Paulson says:

    The removal of “Hylas and the Nymphs” by JW Waterhouse, an iconic work of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, from the wall of Manchester Art Gallery is one of the worst decisions (not to say “mistakes,” because mistakes are usually acts of spontaneous thinking, which was not the case here) ever made by a curator of a gallery, especially when the actual decision was covered by a certain pseudo-academic rhetoric: “we should start a dialogue,” or “how can we talk about the collection in ways which are relevant in the 21st century?”, or “it is time for an open critique of all past art”. Is it? Or are we all witnesses of a notorious case of hypocrisy that could be perfectly defined as “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”? I presume – and I am afraid I am not mistaken – it is the latter. When the curators of the gallery (and, personally, Clare Gannaway) have taken down a piece of art for the sake of a “prompt conversation about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection,” does it remind you of something? I can give you a hint: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” The worst thing you could expect from an educated person, especially a person who is involved in an art activity, is to be a narrow-minded and sanctimonious quasi-expert, who, sadly, has enough power in their hands to provide a “brave new” agenda, which is neither that new nor specifically unique: after all, we all remember the famous “It was a pleasure to burn” books in Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” I do not want to live in a world where canvases removed from display because of one paranoiac person in power has decided that they provide destructive ideas (which in the case of Waterhouse is even more idiotic); I do not want to live in a world where every piece of art has to face a bunch of biased expectations from New Puritans; I do not want to live in a world which could suddenly make a turn into new Dark Ages, because the signs of that are here and they are alarming. I do not want this. And neither do my friends and colleagues. And we will not tolerate it.
    I do not ask, but demand to see “Hylas and the Nymphs” back on display immediately. Until then, no dialogue with art barbarians.

  198. I think the suggestion that this piece presents women as a dangerously sexualised coven of femme fatale could be missing a more complex exploration- the femme fatale figure in la belle dame for example is exploring the restrictions of the male role in society, perhaps an area which is overlooked. And whilst I recognise that sexuality is presented as dangerous and disturbing it also demonstrates a recognition of the power of women and suggests certainly fear and maybe awe. I quite like that.

  199. Mark Sutton says:

    It IS a masterpiece.

  200. Nuria says:

    Some people are missing the point. This month, it’s all about feminism and #MeToo and #TimesUp. So I think that in this context of debate, it is a good move. It’s good marketing for the gallery. PR 101: Find a way to bring your brand to the media by aligning with the trending topic. If it was censorship, my opinion would be quite different. JW Waterhouse is a genious at painting, his work deserves to be on display, it’s remarkable. But it is true that his paintings show women representing only 2 possible erotic fantasies for men: as either passive and pretty (decoration), or as femmes fatales. Oh and obviously always too young.
    I agree with the move of bringing this to attention and generating a debate around “objectification” and comparing the point of view of the XIX century (well… and many centuries before, back to ancient greek mythology) to today’s. Has it changed?
    It’s a good thing to be aware of, especially if we believe this is now changing (I do), but I would never agree with censoring history. As I say, censoring isn’t the point of this move. Quite the opposite: It’s provocation. And marketing. Good move from the Communication/PR department. Should I apply?

  201. A. Baker says:

    This is an interesting idea and you are right to challenge the Victorian perception of women.

    I don’t favour taking well-known but problematic paintings off of display. I would rather see them challenged in situ through interpretation, juxtaposition with the work of artists that have a different view etc. However, I do think temporary interventions like this can be a useful reminder that every painting in a gallery is there because someone chose to put it there.

    Something I find interesting about Waterhouse and his contemporaries is how fruitful it can be to read them against the grain. The femmes fatales are often powerful and dangerous women and I find them appealing in ways that their painters probably didn’t intend. I’m not alone in this there are a lot of Tumblr blogs and Pinterest boards dedicated to 19th century nudes by women who aren’t duped by 19th century morality. They’re finding ways of making these powerful images their own.

    For what it is worth, I think the LGBTQ aspects of the Hylas myth (that Hylas was Hercules’ boyfriend) should also be explored by the gallery. I’d be particularly interested to know more about how this aspect of the painting was understood in the 19th century, given the different attitudes to sexuality.

  202. Nick says:

    Dear Manchester Art Gallery. Thank you for bringing to my attention something for which I may now be retrospectively offended by. It is great to know there is someone out there looking out for the easily offended, and anticipating the things that will offend us, and taking pro-active steps to ensure we are not offended.

  203. Keris McDonald says:

    You want a discussion? Well I’m a woman and a feminist and I’m OUTRAGED by this removal. It is flat-out censorship and there’s nothing “playful” about it. If the gallery title “The Pursuit of Beauty” is outdated and creepy then change the name of the room – how hard is that? Re-order the paintings so the nipples are more dispersed across the collection, if you must. But don’t you *dare* tell adults what they are allowed to like in art!

    An artwork is a piece of FICTION. It’s a window onto its subject matter, the social context of its time, and the mind of its creator. You don’t have to be in agreement with morality any of those things. You don’t have to like everything about it. You can walk away. You can find it uncomfortable – there are certainly artworks I don’t like because of the subject matter – but you do NOT get to dictate what people see, what they like or what they think about. That is an Orwellian-style totalitarianism.

    I’m disgusted with Manchester Art Gallery.

  204. Dean Loveday says:

    Looks miles better than the modern day crap, most of which looks like being the product of someone giving a paint pallet and a bit of canvas to an autistic monkey.

    Here’s an idea, instead of taking this down to appease a bunch of perpetually outraged moral puritans, how about telling any snowflakes that can’t handle looking at to, I don’t know, not look at it, instead of being whiny babies and ruining it for everyone else.

  205. Gill Alderman says:

    Display the painting. Stop censoring or trying to adjust history to modern values.
    Also, why is the curator of contemporary art allowed to meddle with a 19th Century painting?

  206. Ian says:

    I find it very sad that we must denigrate art of past ages in a vain attempt to create our own. Needless to say I am saddened, disgusted, but not surprised.

  207. Christoforos Nikolaou says:

    I sincerely hope this is just a work in the Art of Trolling! The act of removal (i.e. the “un-presentation”) of a piece of art you are supposed to be presenting could be considered in itself a form of art, only of the basest level.

    If we start deciding which art is permitted and which is forbidden we are already treading a very dangerous ground.

  208. jeremy says:

    I loved Hylas and the Nymphs and had the picture on my wall at university, as a gay man my eyes were more drawn to the handsome Hylas than the nymphs. Femme fatale is a way of seeing the painting but why not see it as active appropriation? the Nymphs are in charge here, drawing Hylas down to the lake, I would see this as a passive man and active woman. What is important is how the gallery presents the painting as everyone has their own ideas of what it represents. Don’t tell us how to see it!

  209. Jeremy says:

    Rehang the picture immediately. I thought it was only the Taliban that tried to rewrite art history.
    Or Edward VI’s destruction of our Medieval Art. Or Hitler deciding that Modern Art was degenerate.
    The gallery is a custodian of our past and should leave it to us to decide what we admire and what we don’t.

  210. Paddy says:

    Whatever the intention, this looks like censorship. Own goal.

  211. Susana says:

    Removing Watherhouse painting is enough for me not to ever go and visit the Machester Art Gallery. The painting is simply delightful, and removing it with a pathetic excuse is depriving visitors from forming their own opinions and views. Pure censorship and very shortsighted from the Director of the Gallery. Whoever the Director is, you should resign today.

  212. Artemide says:

    Put Waterhouse back.
    A public collection is not the place for ideological campaigns.

  213. Damian Fernie says:

    I feel ashamed of this obvious attempt at censorship, is this what Manchester has become? What next, boxer shorts for Leonardo`s David? Pathetic thing to have done. I wonder who came up with this offensive idea? One of the most important Pre-Raphaelites in the world, a gem in the collection, consigned to the basement. You do not deserve the guardianship role of looking after the city`s art and heritage . A disgrace.

  214. Peter Furtado says:

    If the Gallery wants to have a wide-ranging debate about what it displays, why and how, and about what is appropriate in this day and age and why, then more power to its elbow. That debate needs to be had, over and over again, and all possible views need to be heard respectfully.
    But my view is that this has been a crass way of provoking that debate, and the dunderheaded messaging around it has obscured whatever good intentions the Gallery may have had. I’m staggered that intelligent curators couldn’t see how counter-productive this approach would be,
    Strongly suggest that this debate is quickly and elegantly ended, then a new and better one is started up. I’m very happy to help in that, since you obviously need some assistance.

  215. Leila Frost says:

    It’s an absolutely beautiful painting. I first came across Waterhouse as a child and adore all of his work, never had a single problem with the naked form in any art. Not sure when we all decided to be so prudish.

    I worry this removal is nothing more than a shameless publicity stunt, denying the public great works of art for cheap media coverage.

  216. Christoforos Nikolaou says:

    Finally there’s an answer to Virgil’s question “cui non dictus Hylas puer?”. The asnwer is Manchester Art Gallery.

  217. Victor says:

    I feel a deep shame about the behavior of the museum with this subject, but “hey, we are really modern and progresist people, you can start like this, and in few months continue adding artist to this:

    Scaring stupid society of twitter and social media…the victory of the ignorance.

  218. richard v raiment says:

    There is a discussion that desperately needs to be had about the representation of the female form in art (and elsewhere), but this is not the way to have it.
    The painting is arguably evidence of a particular way of seeing at a particular time, and I’m not sure that an investigation of anything benefits from the investigators themselves beginning with the burial of evidence.

  219. Loan and Cynthna says:

    An extraordinary and baffling misreading of Victorian art to assert without evidence that passive decoration and femme fatale were the only alternatives in the depiction of women. Try a Elizabeth Prettejohn’s reading of the PRB and then think again about this decision

  220. Percy B says:


  221. Peter Morgan says:

    You have succeeded in creating a storm. Be careful what you wish for, Any appreciation of mythology would demonstrate that the nymphs are the exploiters here, not Hylas.They are, indeed, in pursuit of beauty.Please restore Waterhouse’s masterpiece to its rightful place as soon as possible.

  222. OK, so how do we see the film of the ‘takeover’ so we can determine for ourselves whether this is actually a performative strategy or censorship, as many of these comments imply. I’d quite like to see this painting moving around the space…

  223. This protects no one from anything except art. A pathetic, McCarthyistic idea.

  224. James says:

    Pathetic. What are the PC brigade going to do next? Cover up Venus de Milo? Ban Shakespeare and Dickens for misogyny?

    How appropriate that you call it a “takeover”.

    Put it back up.

  225. Steve Hanscomb says:

    Please give the painting to a gallery where it may be hung for the public to view. When I heard the story I really couldn’t believe it. Please take a good look at yourselves in the mirror. Your agenda has made you lose focus on your job, as guardians of Manchester’s heritage and artworks. Please reverse this silly act as soon as possible.

  226. Paula says:

    Arts purpose is to Stir emotion, create conversation. By pandering to this PC liberal agenda you are creating a world in which people can protest of the existence of anything they deem offensive and have removed. Right now it’s just one painting then another Then an Entire collections. what next the arts,dramas, plays Banned for there content. Already there Are warnings in place at Cambridge University for students wanting to study Shakespeare because the content in his works can be considered “triggering” which is ridiculous. I think the removal Raphaelite painting Hylas And The Nymphs was wrong and if you choose not to reinstate it you should send the entire collection to another gallery not ashamed to show any artwork.

  227. Sean Holland says:

    Place it in context of myth, of its day, of its artist, but do not hide it away. It is obviously a beautiful and well loved piece and many will be unhappy not to be able to see it first hand.

    If you think it is sending a “poor message” send a better one by contrasting it with other art on similar (or different) themes. More art and discussion is always better than less.

  228. Jon Green says:

    I’m delighted that the Manchester Art Gallery is taking down this painting. It gives the The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge an opportunity to borrow it or bid for it, and keep it on display to the public as an excellent supplement to its own excellent Pre-Raphaelite collection. (Yes, Waterhouse wasn’t strictly in the PRB, but his style was so close to and inspired by theirs.)

  229. Robert Negut says:

    I guess it’s effective as a publicity stunt, in the sense that any publicity is good publicity, but other than that, what the heck? Nobody should have a say in what should be allowed to be expressed and what shouldn’t be. And I’m not just talking about the fact that it’s art, and even classical art, which as a rule should never, ever, be subjected to anything that is or may be seen as censorship. As long as what’s being expressed isn’t a credible, current threat, an explicit incitement to violence, or specific personal information about others made public without their consent, nobody should get to say what is and isn’t allowed to be expressed in public.

  230. Serena B says:

    Removing this beautiful painting was a stupid idea. I cannot even begin to list the reasons: there are so many! Just put it back and let the visitors admire it!

  231. Ollie says:

    Pathetic! Entartete Kunst, eh? Anything deemed ‘inappropriate’ (by whom, by the way?) is airbrushed out of existence. I hope your silly act of censorship will backfire massively!!

  232. Polonius Windbag says:

    It’s not about the ‘femme fatale’ or ‘a passive body for consumption’. It’s about the seductive power of lust and the vanity associated with love based on physical desire. Its the opposite of what you claim it is… Try looking post 1960’s if you want consumption and ‘femme fatales’.
    Trouble is the shallow marketing attitude in the arts sector has long been doing to the arts what you claim this painting is doing to attitudes towards women…

  233. Robin Turner says:

    Presumably water nymphs are not women and Hylas is not a man.

    The water nymphs are clearly cold blooded killers because they are luring Hylas to his death.

    So what is the painting depicting?

  234. Mike Richards says:

    Its sad that officials can not see this as anything but beautiful artwork instead of seeing it with such warped and perverted dangerous minds, This world has gone mad what chance do our children have of growing up in a balanced world where they are trusted to think and see for themselves. Its a terrible arrogance that such a few feel they are so elitist that can impose their minds on us all.

  235. Yorkshire lass says:

    A”group gallery takeover” says it all really. Can’t think why you didn’t finish the job with a ritual slashing and burning. You should go and do something useful, instead of wasting your time on empty childish behaviour like this. Just heard your interview on R4, the man they put up against you has more intellect in his little finger than you have in the whole of your body.

  236. David Fawcett says:

    Galleries have no right to censure like this …this is pc and feminism in it’s worst possible guise . Try to get in touch with reality rather than being petty and utterly ridiculous .Shameful.

  237. Frances Hirst says:

    Censoring history and now censoring art. What’s happening to freedom of expression and debating of ideas in this country. Your representative’ s feeble response on Radio 4’s World At One was just the kind of muddled mumbo jumbo which , unfortunately, one has come to expect. There should be space for the best of art both modern and that of previous generations. Hylas and the Nymphs is a fine painting and in no way objectionable to this woman.

  238. Jane Doe says:

    I’m a woman and I see nothing wrong with this beautiful piece. Bring it back. You guys probably just lost a lot of potential visitors with this move. It’s such a beautiful piece that doesn’t deserve to be stuck in some basement. How the hell is this politically incorrect? What’s up next, locking up all Venus’ paintings because they’re not representative of an average female?

  239. James Cave says:

    There is a Gallery here in Leamington called Slate Art Gallery – just coming to the end of an of an exhibition that explores the female form…its both thought provoking and potentially controversial, but isn’t that what art is for?

  240. Derek Woulds says:

    I enjoyed a visit to the gallery a few years ago as I have always been a fan of the Pre- Raphaelites and their followers. If this is the current attitude of the gallery to censor what they see as non PC, I will not be visiting again.

  241. Bill says:

    Oh dear oh dear. A beautiful piece of art dragged into a gutter debate.
    We don’t need or want Big Brother or Big Sister telling us what we can and cannot see, and what we should think. Dress it how you like, you want to impose your wishes open others = Censorship.
    Put it back immediately and remove your own blinkers, You should very seriously consider your position.

  242. Anne Spiers says:

    Why not invite some of our very talented artists to submit a painting that represents their reaction to the said painting and its removal from the gallery space. Each painting selected to fill the empty space could be shown for perhaps one week.

  243. R. Hulmes says:

    Unwarrantable censorship. Disgraceful.

  244. Jan says:

    Censorship plan and simple. This is not only about the Nymphs. Was it removed because there is a Gay character in the painting? Perhaps either sex must never be portrayed in any medium for fear of falling into some quasi political cause. A huge mistake. Liked Cathy’s Daughters reply and Paul Halsalls.

  245. Mark Bridgeford says:

    Have I missed the point? Isn’t this whole debate a piece of conceptual art? In a good way.

    Can’t accuse people of censorship when the stated intent is to bring about debate.

    As for the picture – thought it was a canny comment on suppressed late 19th century representations of sex and sexuality. And how that relates to general use of myth, standard artistic themes etc, etc. Early modernist. I know nothing about the artist.

    In the end – art is what you bring to it and good art makes you think. Removing this piece has made people think about art – and made people think about the work.

  246. John Tovell says:

    What extraordinary arrogance by gallery management! If they do not want to display the picture, they should lend it to another gallery that does.

  247. peter blunt says:

    Surely for this to be an honest debate a work depicting half a dozen women visible ftom the breasts upward is not an explicit example of female nudity

  248. Phil Hirst says:

    Didn’t embarrassed Victorians stick figleaves on parts of artworks that they found offensive? Now we find that rather silly. Removing an entire painting would seem even sillier if it weren’t so sinister.

    Any artist is allowed to create a work that is intended to offend. Indeed some might argue that this can be part of the job. If Waterhouse painted this now would the gallery refuse to hang it because some found it deliberately offensive?

  249. Phil says:

    Whoever made the decision to remove this painting should be ashamed of themselves. The irony is that we used to laugh at the Victorians and their “sensitivity”!

  250. Harry Armitage says:

    I’ve never been to this gallery, and had never seen this painting before. Seeing it now, online, my spontaneous reaction is that I like the painting, though I find it unexciting. When I was a student (nearly 60 years ago), I could be embarrassed about nudity in art, seeing it only as deliberately provoking sexual arousal. Now, it seems, any such portrayal is seen only in the context a war for a more cerebral and moral dominance between the sexes, which I find obsessive, invasive and sad.

  251. David Cade says:

    So “Hylas and the Nymphs” one of the nation’s favourite paintings has been removed from the walls of a room in the splendid “Manchester Art Gallery” because the gallery’s Curator of Contemporary Art wishes to provoke debate about the amount of female nakedness on display in the work!

    The abduction of Hylas by a group of water nymphs was a theme of ancient art! It has long been a subject of Western art. The next thing this curator will be trying to do is rewrite mythology because she disapproves of that too, followed by her seeking to remove from sight every nude ever sculpted!

    It seems to me she may need to get out more and travel the world’s great art collections. Or stick to her gallery of contemporary art!

    When I lived in Manchester I visited this gallery at least once a month and this painting and several others were the main reason for my visits. Exquisite!

  252. Terry McDonnell says:

    Firstly, it is a strange act of provocation to remove Waterhouses unsexualised Nymphs and yet use Etty’s Ulysses and the Syrens to advertise events on the gallery website. The latter being a perfect example of Victorian porn dressed as art.
    Hylas is not only one of the Nation’s most recognisable and loved works of art, it is a favourite of the public of all ages and genders. My 85 year old mother had this painting hanging on her wall for decades!
    This seems just another example of an attempt to shock and spark controversy with an act that is both banal and unintelligent. Pre-Raphaelite women are idealised as are the men . Knights, lovers, poets all with the faces, and physiques, of dreamy Adonis’. Should we remove this Victorian male stereotype of the wistful, oft duped and suicidal male? Shall we debate that?

  253. Steph Pike says:

    Writing in solidarity with the decision by manchester art gallery to remove this painting in order to provoke a discussion which it certainly has. This painting is one of so many by men across the ages that depict women as passive objects etc. The suffragettes attacked pictures in Manchester Art Gallery just over 100 years ago for very similar reasons.
    This is the removal of one picture from one gallery. We need to put this in context – most galleries are stuffed full of paintings by men, many of which show misogynistic portrayals of women. This is where our anger should be directed, not at manchester art gallery for removing one picture for what I think are admirable intentions. To call this censorship is a huge over reaction. What is the more worrying censorship is that which is so commonplace that we don;t even recognise it as such, namely the censorship of women’s art that has taken place over the centuries and is still rampant today. How much work by female artists is hanging in our galleries? how many paintings by women are languishing unforgotten and unappreciated? The valuing of men’s art over women’s is the real censorship we should be angry about. The fact that the removal of one piece of art by a man provokes such outrage shows what a long way we have to go before real equality is achieved.

  254. Anonymous says:

    It is terribly sad to see this has happened. It should be immediatly reinstated. It’s a harrowing thought that beautiful works of art may be taken down because they offend people

  255. Brian Ormrod says:

    This reminds me of the time I tried to introduce some French friends to the Manchester Museum’s wonderful display of Egyptian mummies, only to find them draped in white cloths to ‘avoid offending the public.’ I’m not sure whether they still are covered. Those mummies of course were freely available to study by those select academics who, unlike us plebs, are strangely immune to being offended. As I am sure is this painting. How sad that a child can happily view any number of nude young girls by a quick scroll on the internet, but at an art gallery of all places is forbidden from doing so.

  256. Anne Hill Fernie says:

    This smacks of a cheap exploitative stunt and at best utterly ignores the historical and cultural contexts of artworks. Censorship and removal is high-handed and patronising in the extreme. I do not need to be ‘protected’. If you really wanted a genuine debate, the best way to promote that for people to see and judge. As an art historian (or are you???) you of all people should be aware of the transient nature of what constitutes ‘good taste’ in art. It isn’t long ago that Pre-Raphaelite works were banished to the basement for being ‘kitsch’ and ‘mawkish’. Now they are offensive – oh dear…..

  257. Maeve says:

    I have enjoyed the beauty of this picture for over 30 years and never thought it portrayed women as passive. Where do we stop? How many other paintings will have to be removed because they don’t fit in with modern feminist thought. Leave them where they are and discuss the matter rationally.

  258. Paul says:

    It is a gross misunderstanding of their role as the facilitators and interpreters of art in a public collection to remove individual works from view, unless for a re-hang. The curatorial team should be ashamed of themselves in denying us all access to important works under their charge. This kind of juvenile posturing can only confuse the vulnerable and insecure and obliterate more serious debate about the issues like gender politics or representation that they are purporting to raise. Censorship hurts us all. This needs to be nipped in the bud now. MAG used to be a refuge for me where I’d spend many happy hours marveling at the collection when I was a kid. I can’t believe the curators are prepared to trash its reputation for being open to everyone in the city of Manchester, for a dumb stunt

  259. Adolf says:

    Entartete Kunst !

  260. Helen says:

    I can imagine the scene. A group of concerned, like-minded individuals congratulating themselves on their progressive ideals as they are filmed removing an artwork not deemed to fit in with current ideals. A bit like the Taliban destroying artefacts from a culture they despise, don’t they film themselves too? In the case of Manchester Art Gallery, is it just jumping on the current bandwagon? I am shocked that they take such a narrow minded view. I am currently a member of the Gallery’s Friends scheme, but will not be renewing, nor purchasing from the shop, until this narrow minded and bigoted policy is reversed. And I am female.

  261. Robin Betts says:

    As a device for gaining national attention, it can’t be denied this action has been highly successful. Here’s a suggestion for a follow-up event.

    An open invitation (this time, genuine,) is given to the people of Manchester to assemble in the ‘Pursuit of Beauty’ Gallery. Lined up before them will be the trustees, directors, and curators of the Manchester Art Gallery. The people can then select one of them for temporary, or possibly permanent, removal.

  262. Joby Dorr says:

    So the idea is to create a discussion about something by removing it from view?

    What utter nonsense.

    This is so absurd. There isn’t one comment of support for this stupid idea and yet the responsible parties refuse to compromise on their decision and even seen to be doubling down.

  263. Christopher Webber says:

    Only somebody with a terminally dirty mind could be offended by Waterhouse’s statement of female power. Your action is silly and dangerous.

    You should (a) replace Hylas immediately, and (b) resign. The only “debate” this cheap publicity stunt promotes is whether we should allow fascist censorship in our great public art galleries. Like many others, I won’t visit MGA until you do so.

  264. T M James says:

    If this is a publicity stunt it is unworthy, otherwise it is small-minded, prudish nonsense. Removing this painting is an act of vandalism. If you want suggestions as to what should be hung in its place, I suggest the moron who is behind the decision.

  265. Rock Lobster says:

    For me it’s about the perils of giving into desire. The most base, and obvious desires of a man are women (to a Victorian at least).

    Here, the desire to create controversy by taking the picture down and generate discussion is perverse in itself.

  266. Michael says:

    There is a joke about Russian plant that tried to produce various things, but always got AK-47 as end product. “Anglosphere” seems to always return to its roots – puritanism in various forms, be it conservative bigotry or progressive feminism.

  267. Ally says:

    Stop patronising us by telling us what to think! this is the first step in the puritanical cultural revolution which will end with nude statues covered up and erotic paintings defaced.
    Are men not supposed to see females in a sexual way because that is what objectification is? Just because the New Puritans don’t like it, we have to censor western art. We will end up like Iran where they show Boticelli’s Venus with her body covered up to art students (described by Marjane Satrapi) as it’s so OFFENSIVE. Give me a break.
    Guess what the past is not politically correct so get over it. Trust people to make up their own minds instead of being the superior do gooding nanny wagging your finger.

  268. Jeff says:

    The Manchester Art Gallery should be forced to relinquish their Victorian collection to a more capable custodian, who will treat the works with the respect they deserve. Then they can re-brand the wing “The Pursuit of Identity Politics” and fill it with Andrea Dworkin portraits if they want.

  269. R Downing says:

    I used to go and look at this every day when I was growing up. Sad.

  270. Christian says:

    This is all going too far…The theme of the imagery dates back to ancient Greece… next they’ll be wanting to burn books in the library … pretty damn sad.

  271. Jon Paris says:

    This is so, so sad.

    The fact that you would even contemplate removing the picture for these reasons is just too ridiculous for words. Art reflects the climate of the time in which it was made and should be exhibited as such. Should we remove all of Conan Doyle’s work from public libraries because of the way he belittles women? This level of censorship (because that is all it is) is a very slippery slope.

  272. Val Bolitho says:

    This is art, not pornography. Please put the painting back. It is a bit like The Victorians snapping the penises off statues. This is about mythology and should not be censored.

  273. Ewart says:

    Absolute stupidity – this attitude would remove thousands of paintings, thousands of plays & books from libraries, and so on. I predict it will lose you many visitors as a protest boycott.
    All paintings have to be seen in context, but hiding them removes that possibility. The same applies to war paintings, and many other that may be considered “inappropriate”.

  274. ann bergstrom says:

    Damn it. I was coming to Manchester from Seattle to JUST SEE THIS PAINTING. Now I can’t. I still have my ancient Athena Poster of THIS PAINTING. Now MAG says it’s too dirty for me to see. Might as well stay in London and look at their paintings. If they LET me. BECAUSE ART SHOULD BE POLICED BY CURATORS.

  275. Henry Justin Marcel says:

    It is not your place to “challenge a Victorian fantasy”. Your role is to display art and to provide information about the historical context within which it was produced so that it may be appreciated for what it is. Your role is not to prompt people to judge artworks produced in previous periods by your modern, yet regressive, social justice standards. Return the painting to display and contain your personal politics in future.

  276. CFR says:

    This is not intended to promote debate. This is pure and blatant censorship motivated by political correctness and petty sensationalism. Authorities responsible for this outrageous move should be removed on the spot as enemies of art and freedom

  277. Felipe says:

    I just don´t understand how someone can just believe in a second that we are able to interpret someone else´s point of view , especially from another era, with our eyes from today.

    This is terrible.

  278. Denerog says:

    What an idiotic way to incite interest in a gallery. If you feel the painting causing so much animosity then why don’t you just 1984 that canvas and slowly move the blade to Picasso?

  279. Bob Maple says:

    I think you should give it to me since I care about Western civilization and you seem intent on turning your country over to 12th century barbarians who will probably burn it anyhow.

    I’ll preserve it. I’ll care for it. I’ll display it. And I won’t pull stupid stunts to virtue signal to a bunch of emotionally stunted 8 year olds who will never be satisfied with anything anyway.


  280. Harry says:

    Might as well close the museum. Civilization is lost.

  281. Maria Jose says:

    Censuring artwork is not the answer, we should keep it in our mueseums, they teach us about many things, the dark side of our natures and the bright side.The decision about wich one is portrayed is, as they used to say, in the eyes of the beholder. Also, this painting portrays women as seducers but in a much better light than in the past, the nymphs look innocent, sweet and at the same time knowing. They are the ones iniciating the seduction in a active way, this was new in the XIX century. The painters used to give women roles as experience, dark seducers or the role of victims. That is the reason why I like Waterhouse.

  282. What were you thinking? says:

    Yes, like you said “in a world full of intertwined issues of gender, race, sexuality and class which affect us all”, removing art that may offend is very important. The gallery staff should look up “Entartete Kunst” for more pointers about which art has no place in a modern progressive art gallery. I hear the people who came up with this term were masters concerning race, gender and class issues.

  283. Christine says:

    Surely the “context” in which this painting should be viewed is that of pre-Raphaelite art and the notable collection at the gallery – which is why many people visit it in the first place. To remove it from this context in order to hold a “conversation” in a completely inappropriate context is a silly publicity stunt as many have already said.

  284. Ron Atkinson says:

    Has this ‘debate’ been motivated by the new director Alistair Hudson? If so then perhaps it’s an attempt to bring himself to notice. If not then perhaps the outgoing director is making his statement by leaving a controversy behind.

  285. Mrs Susan Pallant says:

    If the object of removing the painting was only to generate interest and discussion I am content. I sincerely hope though that this is not one more attempt at telling us, the public, what we should view, think, hear and say. Are we not mature and educated enough to judge for ourselves. It brings to mind the Mary Waterhouse era, Puritanism and the novel 1984. I hope that we are never deprived of the freedom we are so lucky to enjoy. I have been involved in the art world as an amateur painter since I was 12 and respect and honour all genres of art..

  286. Nick Croft says:

    I think the overwhelming majority of the comments here say it all, loudly and clearly.

    Please replace the painting immediately, and stop foisting this patronising censorship on the public, who are quite able to think for themselves and make their own judgements on works of art without ‘guidance’ from self-appointed moral arbiters and censorious puritans.

  287. Chris Ashton says:

    Are you lot out of your collective tiny minds? Put the thing back at once. This is nothing short of censorship and prudism masquerading as feminism.
    “Debate”? who are you trying to kid? You might as well shut the doors altogether & burn every exhibit you have.
    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  288. Phil says:

    Why not just put up a load of paintings and other art pieces that you deem slightly risque for whatever reason and put them in a new exhibit at the gallery.

    Or have an exhibition that celebrates the female form using artwork throughout the ages.

    You would be creating more debate that way and would be less talk of what seems to be censorship on your part even if that was not the intent.

  289. Stephane says:

    I hope everybody who will visit your gallery, hoping to see that painting, will request a refund. That’s what I would do if I experienced an unpleasant surprise like this. How could you be so stupid! Will you hide everything that is not to the taste of the moment? As someone said, Are you going to burn inappropriate books next? I have problems with a little group of stupid and small-minded prudes deciding for others what is good or what is wrong… This is so pathetic!

  290. Nick Mulder says:

    Ow noos, its so awful! Images of beautiful people should be forbidden! Give the painting to me, I’ll take care of it.

  291. Lisa says:

    Thank you for starting a long overdue-debate. For me, this has nothing to do with being pathetic nor censorship, great performance.

  292. Mr Saltire says:

    So it’s not censorship, or telling people what pictures they can love, but postcards of the picture have been removed from the gift shop. If it walks like a duck…

  293. Felix Weigend says:

    “How could artworks speak in more contemporary, relevant ways?” is not the question or the Problem. The latter is that some people want to teach us what is ‘acceptable’ art unter their contemporary bias. They have no idea of art – or the open society, by the way.

    Art speaks for itself – just show it. Everyone is free to have his opinion on its formings, but does not have the right to impede its public Exhibition.

  294. Rod says:

    This is a very poor choice of target for this publicity stunt. The modern critic and dealer Christopher Wood describes this painting in his book, Olympian Dreamers, as Waterhouse’s “greatest classical picture”, he goes onto say: ‘Waterhouse chooses a moment of feminine agency; in this case, the Nymphs lure Hylas into their lily pond. He is the victim to their desires, and as such Waterhouse subordinates him in the painting Hylas faces away from the viewer, and the shadow cast across his face evokes a marked contrast with the illuminated faces and bodies of the Nymphs.’

    Presumably MAG would approve of the religious zealots who took great pains in the Renaissance period to smash nude statues and break off or cover up penises. Perhaps that will be the centrepiece of the next group gallery takeover? When should I bring my sledgehammer for this artistic event? If only they could arrange for the loan of Michelangelo’s David they could really ensure it gains worldwide publicity.

  295. Nick says:

    Isn’t it interesting how people who censor art always say “this isn’t about censorship”?

    The curators complains that “it was male artists pursuing women’s bodies.” In the picture’s own terms, it is quite obvious that it is the opposite–the women are pulling the hunky man into the pool. But even if we accept that the artist intended to display female flesh in a titillating fashion, that is part of art history. We can discuss it, contextualize it, dislike it. But it should not be erased from museums because of contemporary moralism.

    Indeed, this curator’s attempt to “start a conversation” reeks of disingenuousness. Who decides what topics are “up for conversation”, anyway? Some think removing art from museums makes for productive conversation. Why don’t we try some other “conversation starters” too, like “temporarily” taking votes away from women, or not recognizing gay rights? Not because of bias of course! Just to “start a conversation…”

    Classical galleries are full of representations of the luscious flesh of young men. Interestingly, we don’t see this kind of “not-censorship” when it comes to homosexual eroticism. It seems only heterosexual desire, on the part of men, is up for interrogation.

  296. James says:

    Truly awful decision – Oliver Cromwell rises again

  297. Jane Wilkes says:

    I am outraged! I have loved this painting since I was a girl and have a print in my bedroom now over 45 years later. It is too beautiful to be hidden away. Shame on you Manchester Art Gallery.

  298. Nigel says:

    Like others I was alarmed that you have censored this work of art (and it is censorship no matter how much you deny it as it’s been removed purely based on your own sociopolitical beliefs).
    We often describe the Victorians as prudes. If that is so, then how puritanical are we?
    By removing the piece of art you’ve denied the chance for people to see it and interpret it for themselves. Instead you’ve imposed your own feelings and perspective of the work on everyone.
    I advise that instead of removing classical works you ADD new work which explores different perspectives on beauty such as male beauty, female perspectives on beauty etc.

  299. Simon Jester says:

    How about we pretend we’re not living in a police state and you put the picture back up? Censorship, of any kind, never solves anything. You are a tax paid, public, institution, and you need to act like grown ups and stop molly coddling people.

  300. Lorna Burns says:

    This is a stunning piece of art, typical of the pre Raphaelite era and of it’s morals and views on woman. These views may not be acceptable now but this is a masterpiece and if we censor every piece of art that dares to show a body part then the art galleries will all be empty. It is of it’s time but even today it’s breathtaking beauty should not be censored. I am a strong modern woman but have a pre Raphaelite heart and it is so heavy at the removal of a masterpiece which lifts the soul. It has no relevance in today’s debates. For goodness sake give people the freedom and choice to enjoy the art they love. Personally I find a pickled sheep far more offensive!

  301. Ekaterina says:

    I could understand it if it was a private collection. How is it, that a public Gallery, living from peoples taxes decides on hiding a painting from people??. My favourite picture by the way, the only reason I had so far to visit Manchester

  302. Paul Stevens says:

    Censorship just promotes ignorance and stifles debate. A cheap gimmick, so now that you have had your fifteen minutes – put the picture back.

  303. djangohatnemonatskarte says:

    just another step back into the dark ages of sexual repression.

    next steps are the burning of witches and heretics………….let us start with easy things and burn books, remember May 10th 1933

  304. Jos says:

    Your action disgusts me. In the past we had people who “worked for us, ate for us, fought for us”. Now we know that you think for us. It’s no relief.

  305. Philip Tyrer says:

    Perhaps the painting also objectifies the male body? To me Hylas is straight out of Men’s Health; one can almost see the wash-board abs under the tunic.

  306. Peter Nash says:

    This is beneath contempt. You don’t even have the courage of your convictions to admit that your decision to remove this wonderful painting was motivated by self-imposed, politically correct censorship – instead you pretend it’s aimed at stimulating debate.
    You have made yourselves look pathetic and you should be ashamed of yourselves. You have even managed to insult the common sense of feminists.

  307. Emanuala says:

    You have one of the most beautiful collections in the world. People come from all countries to enjoy it. The Victorian perspective might be different than the contemporary one, but taking down paintings for trivial reasons is disrespectful for all viewers. We are slowly but surely moving towards a dangerous regime of c’è censorship.

  308. […] "La galería existe en un mundo de cuestiones entrelazadas de género, raza, sexualidad y clase que nos afectan a todos. ¿Cómo pueden las obras de arte hablarnos en formas más contemporáneas y relevantes?", se pregunta la Galería de Arte de Manchester, una institución pública,en un comunicado. […]

  309. Andrew Loudon says:

    Removing this painting is a disgraceful act, the decision would seem to be another ridiculous knee jerk by the politically correct desperately trying to be on trend. By the strength of the reactions so far the stunt appears to have backfired.

  310. Brummie says:

    Interesting that the gallery seeks to inspire discussion by removing a painting. Rather an inversion of the usual function of a municipal gallery.

    Exploring your collections online I noticed that the same room includes a nude woman brutally maltreating a tortoise (Holme Cardwell’s Venus Victrix).
    Please take this sculpture from public view in order to promote discussion of outdated opinions of animal rights.

  311. In 1914, suffragette Mary Richardson slashed Velázquez’s nude painting of Venus in the National Gallery with a meat cleaver. She proclaimed, “I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government.” Around the same time, conservative groups in Chicago were demanding that Matisse’s painting of nude dancers be removed from the Art Institute as inappropriate.

    Today we see another indignant group eager to use someone else’s art as a tool for expressing their grievances. I guess we should be grateful they’re using persiflage rather than meat cleavers.

  312. Steve Cole says:

    Being a Waterhouse fan, I was appalled at this curators views, I didn’t know we still practiced Victorian values.

  313. Raul says:

    If you view this whole activity as an example to show the consequences of overzealous political correctness, then it is an enormous success, as it made people think.
    If it is really intended to be a pc activity, then I am truly frightened for our future… Just some thoughts sent from Germany

  314. J Clarks says:

    This has been my favorite piece of art since the first time I have encountered it at MAG. And MAG has ever since been my favorite art gallery. I was remembering the time I was able to visit MAG today and found out that out of all art work of MAG this was chosen to be taken down to promote conversation/dabate. I am very upset to find out about this.
    I no longer live in UK and have not been able to visit MAG for a while now. But I cherish the times I was able to spend indoor MAG when it is raining and miserable outside. I would sit in front of this particular painting, studying the details of it. This is such a fascinating piece to me, particularly with the expressions on Nymphs’ faces. And I love the colour of comparison of the skin of Nymphs and the dark water. And how it just draws your attention to the depth of the depiction.
    I think the conversation MAG is trying to promote with this action is an interesting one and not insignificant. But I can’t really process this seriously because the action taken does not really make any sense to me and is personally very very upsetting.
    I wish the artwork would be put back soon.

  315. Miguel says:

    I work in an international organization in a department that takes care of social innovation. I work in gender issues related themes almost every day. Because I choose to. Also, I try to be an artist in my free time. I was living in Manchester in 2006. This painting thrilled me like no other. I bought a reproduction there that’s in my wall. It´s beautiful and inspiring. As much as I encourage debate, this feels like an abhorrent decission. The people visiting the gallery the time the painting is away are missing a masterpiece because you want to force social debate into people. People that maybe are visiting the country and it’s a one chance only to see the pieces. Your moral authority self-bestowment is disturbing and terrifying, Please put the painting back in the wall as soon as possible. Thanks.

  316. Ewa says:

    Manchester Gallery are you REALLY understand what ART IS ??!!!

  317. Malcolm Cole says:

    Have so enjoyed the MAG’s Pre-Raphaelites collection in the past. By all mean have a discussion how society “display[s] and interpret artworks” BUT how can society take part in the discussion pick on only one image. Why not take down all images you think require this attention ? If you think that is an extreme reaction please contemplate your own action.

  318. Paul Morgan says:

    This is cultural fascism. How dare you politicise our heritage? JW Waterhouse was an exceptionally gifted artist and his art is breathtakingly beautiful and loved by men and women all over the world.

  319. Robert Peters says:

    You wanted to start a conversation. You were successful, congratulations. Now bring back the painting.

  320. Eva de Winter says:

    Some of us are sick of the endless ‘discussions’ and destructive behaviour prompted by modern feminists and so-called social justice warriors, who apparently wish to take the beauty and pleasure out of everything. Leave the games for the playground please, no one who thinks like this should be allowed to work for or with a museum, which is after all meant to protect and display notable pieces, not follow the new religion of political correctness over the edge of a cliff.

  321. Kevin Moore says:

    A work from the ‘public collection. So yes the work belongs to the public. The public have decided. Put it back. Condemnation was surely not the intent for you but that it what you now get from this ridiculous decision.

  322. Matthias says:

    Ah, yes, we now behave like the Nazi (see ) how enlightened…

  323. Victorianist art historian, curator and editor of the Review of the Pre-Raphaelite Society here, so this is a subject that I have thought long and hard about for many years. Of course some Victorian (and indeed, many contemporary) towards gender and race can be problematic, as can the whole notion of the male gaze. These issues are hardly new, and have been discussed extensively for decades now. Likewise, there are many artworks in galleries which, although seemingly benign, were made by people whose politics or sexual mores may seem objectionable to modern sensibilities. However, removing artworks should never be an option. It does not stimulate debate, it merely stifles it. A more sensible option would be to leave this much loved artwork (which some of your visitors may be travelling a long way to see) in place and improve your interpretation of the artwork to ask the questions around gender, diversity and the male gaze, which you wish to raise. Great publicity stunt though!

  324. […] "La galería existe en un mundo de cuestiones entrelazadas de género, raza, sexualidad y clase que nos afectan a todos. ¿Cómo pueden las obras de arte hablarnos en formas más contemporáneas y relevantes?", se pregunta la Galería de Arte de Manchester, una institución pública,en un comunicado. […]

  325. Richard says:

    You ask how could artworks speak in more contemporary ways. We are all of us surrounded by the contemporary : modern life throws news, facts, ideas at us all the time. One of the functions of the arts is precisely to take us out of today and remind us that people in other times and other places had different ideas and thought in different ways from us. If we can, at least occasionally, be aware of this, we might have a bit more perspective on our own times and not so easily fall for whatever is the latest fashion.

  326. Lord Windgrace says:

    So, why was this removed? Obviously the “space issue” is a cover. Is it haram or is it misogynistic? Which one is it?

  327. Simon says:

    Shame on you Manchester Art Gallery for jumping on the coat tails of a media frenzy around genuine wrong-doing. How can you that this painting the the same brush? We are supposed to live in a democracy, but increasingly the few are taking decisions for us all – dictating what we should think, believe and how we should behave. We are intelligent people and can make those judgements for ourselves.
    I have visited your galley for nearly 40 years. Hylas and the Nymphs is one of my favourite paintings in both your gallery and of those paintings produced by the pre-raphaelites and their followers. My wife and children share my love for this painting. Seeking to edit our art history in this way sets a dangerous precident. Not that long ago, the Nazis chose modern or Avant Garde art to villify. Look what happened there.

  328. Barry Slemmings says:

    No art can be judged on the basis of modern values. It must be judged on the values of the time in which that art was created. Picasso’s Guernica was a cry from the heart about the evils of modern warfare. Rubens liked ‘plus size’ women and so did his clients. The French Impressionists struggled to convey what they saw and how they felt about a scene. Their art was visceral and from the heart.

    Likewise the Pre-Raphaelites struggled with a grim post-Industrial Revolution Britain and hankered for a romantic and idealised view of ancient mythology. Yes they were sexual beings and yes they had a certain view of women’s bodies. In creating their art they lift a veil on the tastes and values of the Victorian middle class and reveal themselves to be less prudish and far more prurient than we might otherwise expect.

    The Pre-Raphaelites were the art of their times, they reflected the values of their times. I reject any attempt to remove art from display in a public gallery in just the same way as I reject and despise Nazi censoring of so-called ‘degenerate art’. Your gallery should be proud to have this piece in its collection. Kindly re-instate it. Celebrate it!

  329. I like the poesy in the painting, and as a woman I dont feel offended. Why would I? We have TV Shows going on like The Bachelor and all the trillions of pornsites on the internet where women are represented like dumb objects, that should be better censored…However, starting this discussion is a great marketing act for the museum:)

  330. Steve Cole says:

    Perhaps we should close the art gallery, and give the paintings to galleries around Britain that aren’t UNCOMFORTABLE showing them.

  331. John Hedtke says:

    I agree that removing this piece is a silly idea. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelites–my single favorite painting has always been Rossetti’s “Venus Verticordia”–and I’m neither feeling threatened by nor inspired to suppress women by the presence of young attractive women (and a similarly idealized attractive man, one should not forget). Moreover, remembering the myth of Hylas, lover of Herakles, this painting is can be looked at as a moral tale of female empowerment, as Things Do Not End Well for Hylas here a minute or two after this scene.

    I’m reminded of the fact that 500 years later, there are *still* idiots who feel that Michelangelo’s David should have a figleaf, as if they knew more about art than Michelangelo. If it is arguable that this is somehow a negative portrayal of women simply because they’re naked and young (a position I don’t accept), then it is equally an image of its time and is *still* valid for a’ that. Great art is often controversial, sometimes in continuing and unexpected ways decades later, but that is the nature of its greatness. Critics may choose to disagree with the artist’s POV, but it should never be denied that it is the artist’s work that has endured the test of time and never the critic’s.

    IMO, this picture should continue to hang publicly as it has until now. Removing this particular piece seems little more than a stunt.

    P.S. I greatly appreciate Stephen Riley’s comments in this thread, to which I can only add that Mencken probably said it best: to the effect that, while the Creator may have erred in making two sexes, a conspiracy of silence about the facts was hardly going to improve the situation.

  332. Rob W Malcolm says:

    Words fail me!
    I think the debate should not be so much about whether the painting should be on display, but whether somebody with such narrow views should be doing the job that she is.

  333. Christian Lauer says:

    This sexism debate is pathological, the Mancester Art Gallery has failed !

  334. Bill says:

    You should be ashamed.

    Hetero men have always and everywhere pursued females. Just as females have pursued males. That’s why mythological stories so often portray sexual themes. This is life, this is nature.

    Your prudish reaction to this and other paintings is very disturbing coming from an art curator.

  335. Ian says:

    I had intended to see this exhibition and visit the gallery. Now art is being censored in your gallery, I shall go elsewhere

  336. Mrs Rightous says:

    What a tasteless, revolting and appalling picture! My son just to came to me, totally disturbed, because he saw it. Can´t you put a disclaimer before one enters your site?! This is pornopraphy!!! Who in the right mind would think this is art? Breasts!!!!!! Bare Breasts even! Bad enough these strange things exists, but showing them is just shameful! Best solution would be obviously to burn this provocation or at least to paint clothes for these poor women! I was right NEVER to go to a museum. But I did not expect it to be that bad! Don´t you think modern art is better: I once saw a Kandinsky. It took a while, but after much concentration I noticed lines that could very well be interpreted as a penis!!! Sublimely done but that makes it even worse! Burn it! Burn it all!!!

  337. Rob says:

    Will every picture with a naked putti, every Madonna with a naked Christ and every Venus, Eros and Aphrodite be withdrawn? Rather than challenge Victorian Fantasy it is reintroducing Victorian prudery.
    Cover up the chair legs in the cafeteria please.
    It seems that in an attempt to gain some cheap publicity Manchester Gallery has made itself a laughing stock.

  338. Rob says:

    Manchester Art Gallery needs to cover the table legs in the cafeteria. Shocking display that only incites the passions of the lower classes.

  339. Mike Taylor says:

    Why could you not leave the work in place and at the same time encourage discussion? I suspect. once the furore dies down, the painting will never again be on show in the gallery. Let’s face it, this is simply part of an insidious move towards censorship and puritanism. It’s the 21st century, not the 17th!

  340. John Rutherford says:

    Nothing better than a good censorship.
    Start burning pictures and books like this. We love autodafes. Let’s start to draw up lists with names of these so called modern artists, and don’t forget the names of those that support them. Next steps should be clear; lets burn them all including their works, burn them all to ashes.

  341. Peter Solan says:

    Gosh! You’re right! I thought this was simply a lovely pre-Raphaelite fancy, a lovely painting, reworking an ancient legend.

    Thanks to you, I realise it is filth – a paedophile fantasy.

    Burn it! Along with other works of art now seen for the filth they are. Burn the lot – in the street!

    Thanks for this new perspective on what I had considered great art.

  342. Andy Axon says:

    Utterly preposterous and ignorant decision to remove ‘Hylas and the Nymphs’ from exhibition. Could it perhaps be put on show in a separate exhibition, you could call it ‘Degenerate Art’. I believe there is a precedent…

    Shame on Manchester Art Gallery.

  343. ian banks says:

    Is this really a debate? Or is it a bit a cheap bit of publicity for the gallery? I’m not sure censorship is the best way to start a debate if that’s what you’re really trying to do. There’s plenty of homoerotic art, why aren’t they also being removed? I’m disappointed by the crass nature of this ‘statement’.

  344. Monte Davis says:

    Dear Lord, Orwell’s 1984 has crept into the art world. Politically correct paintings are nothing more than censorship. Our world is falling into a neo Fascist system where a small minority infect the people and alter history. SHAME ON YOU.
    “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”
    George Orwell

  345. G. Pollock says:

    Why stop at Waterhouse? So, so, predictable to carry off -in what will no doubt be yet another thrilling and wholly enlightening video installation – a canvas of unadorned female flesh when you could, instead, have deconstructed the subversive nature of Millais’ ‘Autumn Leaves’ with its fully clothed adolescents vanishing under the weight of even more outdated symbols and signs. Sad you can’t think of any more constructive ways to put your gallery on the map than cheap stunts like this – exhibitions maybe, loans and outreach to schools? But then you might have to creep down the steps of your ivory tower and engage.

  346. Nancy Wright says:

    My father just called to tell me about this and I said, don’t worry, that’ll be fake news. No one could be so breathtakingly condescending and puerile as to pull a stunt like this.

    Does any piece of Victoriana featuring nudes come under the fevered spotlight of the zealot? The real conversation to be had here is the rise of the modern puritan and their appalling, stultifying censoriousness.

  347. Janice Bone says:

    why must the painting be removed.? all means put a poster up near the painting and ask people to comment about what they think…removing the painting is the thin end of the wedge…what next?? something else that the curators don’t approve of? you are heading towards life that can only be lived as certain people say so…the Nazis started down this road in 1939… look what happened then….

  348. Anna Lewis says:

    Your big mistake was removing the painting, clearly censorship. What a pity. And the painting has gone for ideological reasons, a dangerous precedent. Today Waterhouse, next Waterstones?

  349. derek says:

    It cannot be right to instigate a debate about something by removing the object in question, how can people make informed comments about things they are denied knowledge of.
    If the gallery regards this painting as inappropriate and wants to test public opinion it should place notices in the entrance and have a way of recording comments.
    What should we do with the past,bin it ,or preserve it in museums where people can study and perhaps even learn from it. When museums start to display only what they deem suitable it is a slippery slope. What about Michelangelo’s David, or is this only a female issue.
    What is the role of a museum? To give us access to the past, warts and all, or to sanitise our heritage to suit today’s latest fad

  350. Paule says:

    Please put the picture up. It is clearly an act of censorship to remove it from display. The discussion you are claiming will occur has occurred already, and it has been well documented. Do we not learn from the past? Do we have curatorial amnesia?

  351. Ari Langsford says:

    I have a wonderful vegan friend who seriously objects to any depiction (in books or art) of meat eating/dairy industry etc. I love her dearly, but what happens if she ever gets on the board of your gallery or a library?

  352. Gregory Martin says:

    Pointless attempt at attention grabbing.

    Attendance at Museums fell by over 1.5 million last year, they are becoming outdated and boring.

    The painting is freely available on the internet in extremely high quality, and I’m sure the original will still be available for private viewing requests to those “intellectuals” who Clare does not feel the need to protect from this “shocking” work of art.

    This “experiment” merely proves that curators still have a Victorian attitude to the general public and feel obliged to “filter” history for our benefit.

    Long live the Internet!

  353. David Feetham says:

    This is silly, put it back and stop pandering to the PC brigade. If people don’t want to view such a painting then they can make that choice, it’s not your job to make that decision for them. Where will this nonsense end ???

  354. Jillian Patton says:

    Out and out censorship, no other name for it. When you are being told rather than asked what to think of a painting.
    I think the painting should be put back exactly where it was, as I do not think anyone within a public gallery should be able to censor work in this way, especially not a public employee, who has told us why we should not be looking at or enjoying this painting in her own very opinionated way. I’m totally disappointed that she has been allowed to do this by her superiors and would say to Clare Gannaway that she should consider a career move as she is obviously not going to safe guard the nations great paintings if they include naked women. So please feel free to resign.

    If we were to allow this type of censorship many of the museums and gallery’s around the world would be devoid of paintings because they have naked figures of women hanging on the walls, many of them from the great master themselves. None of them I deem pornograpic or personally demeaning to myself as a women. I’m so angry at the position Clare has taken and supposedly on my behalf as a women. All I can say is you do not speak for me.

  355. Katherine Julia Donald says:

    Does the gallery not realise that the general public are clever enough to take a paiting in the context of when it was painted, and come to their own judgement what sort of issues it might raise if it were painted nowadays. How patronising of them to with draw the painting and peoples ability to buy a copy of it on postcard. It is censorship, it is ridiculous, and it is small-minded. Art crosses many boundaries – as a lot of the most recent works do – it’s not for a blinkered curator to make a decision like this,. Shame on you for pushing a self publising agenda.

  356. David says:

    I am an artist. Today, like I have done for the last few months, I have been painting a large canvas with a (naked) young couple embracing in a landscape setting. It will form part of a complicated narrative within a ‘double’ triptych. So now it seems I will be castigated by the thought police along with the venerable John Waterhouse. How dare you! Tomorrow I shall return to my canvas with renewed determination and my love of art undiminished. Return Hylas immediately!

  357. Mark Henson says:

    It’s hard to imagine out- pruding the Victorians, when we live in a world where prostitution, porno, sex in advertising, etc., is rampant. As an Artist, I guess it’s time to paint more nudes, just to prove that not everyone in the 21st century is as fearful of art as this museum seems to be.

  358. Anthony Pryer says:

    A more explicit picture on exactly the same subject was painted in 1909 by the female artist Henrietta Rae (it is easily viewable on the internet). Is the problem with Waterhouse’s picture a ‘gender neutral’ one, and if not why not?

  359. Jo says:

    Art should Not Be Censored – and should not even be up for debate – the thin end of the wedge. Put the painting back where it belongs … British culture is open minded and diverse – free expression is a very important component of our culture.

  360. Darren says:

    Can whoever was involved in this shameful, ignorant, and self-aggrandising decision to remove a first-class painting, please do the following two simple things:

    1. Put the painting back on display.
    2. Remove themselves immediately from Manchester Gallery and any other artistic establishment.

    You clearly have no appreciation of art beyond the tired old 20th century views of deconstructionism, politicisation and gender theory, and you are not even qualified to tie the shoes of a Waterhouse. You are the embarrassment.

    The public are not interested in your virtue signalling and “challenging” views which are nothing short of barbaric…they just want to see great works of art and beauty.

    If you prefer ugliness and desecration, by all means indulgence your passion in your own time, but do not do so at the public’s expense.

  361. Martin Cutmore says:

    I read that you’ve also removed postcards of the painting from the gallery shop. I think this undermines your stated stance that it’s not censorship and purely to provoke debate about how displayed.
    Paintings provoke debate when we can see them. My wife and I discuss what we think the artist was trying to say or represent when visiting galleries.
    We do not need to be told what is appropriate or not, we can decide that for ourselves

  362. Paul Cheshire says:

    Presumably the gallery will be selling this painting as you seem very indifferent about it. Surely the comments made by the curator herself mean there is little option other than to pass the painting on to another gallery that would value the work. To do anything else would be muddled and hypocritical in the extreme. I’m sure you would get a good price.

  363. How dare you apply your own narrow moralistic view on a past age!

    How are future generations to interpret how society develops if it is only perceived from one narrow politically correct viewpoint. What kind of a challenge is this to Victorian values, it says more about the recent explosion of misandry.

    It is a cynical and pathetic publicity stunt, you should be ashamed. What is next? Do we chop the balls off Michelangelo’s David? I am an artist and I resent my access to art censored by a misguided feminist agenda.

    You need a new curator, I am available!!!!

  364. John Williams says:

    Don’t let’s bow down to nonsense!! For one group to deprive another of an experience is undemocratic. Art has always been controversial and leads people to thought.

  365. Doug MacGregor says:

    This is a monumentally sad and ridiculous decision. To withdraw a well-known and well-respected picture in order to “prompt conversation” is, frankly, beyond my comprehension. Perhaps you should just focus all your attention henceforth on Spiderman ephemera. Sad times.

  366. Anna D. says:

    Are you all gone mad!? In all seriousness, what are you going to do about Balthus? Or contemporary artist, sculptores? What about rape of Sabin women? Eugène Delacroix, ‘liberty leading the people’!!? I can’t believe we are all even discussing this!!

  367. Jo Ohanahan says:

    Is this a publicity stunt? You do appreciate the mythology being depicted? And the fact that women artists have painted this scene in a not dissimilar way? If you ever add context that should be included. If it is your intention to permanently remove items that do not conform to your sensibilities, then you should transfer the artwork to other “free entry” public art galleries. I’m sure you realise that popular paintings would be gladly welcomed elsewhere.

  368. Diane Morgan says:

    This is really annoys me. This painting should stay where it was, or do you suggest painting drapes over the bodies of the young nymphs ! We’ll be back to the stupidity of putting covers over the legs of pianos etc. This act reminds me of those people who want to rename streets in my home city of Liverpool because they are the names of people involved in the slave trade. We can’t and shouldn’t deny history, we learn from it. Now we have the situation which is happening in Manchester art gallery. We have a situation where people are worried if they take a photograph of grandchildren playing naked in the garden etc. The vast majority of are not perverts and we don’t need this madness of others who think they know better deciding what we can see or not see. Are you putting in a large order of fig leaves to cover all naked parts on paintings and sculptures ? I was an art teacher for 35 years teaching students both boys and girls from 11 to 18. I would never had decided to censor what they could or couldn’t look at in any art work. Put the painting back and do something worthwhile to earn your salary.

  369. pamela baker says:

    As a lover of Manchester Art Gallery and the painting which I love so sad we even have to have a debate about this painting. What kind of a Curator is this woman? Is she really suitable for this position? I am a 74 year old woman who is shocked by what she is doing and certainly not the painting. Put the painting back and come to your senses ‘woman’! Its feminism gone mad. Where is all this leading. So sad.

  370. Samantha says:

    This is such a cheap attempt for publicity.

  371. Chris Daniels says:

    One of the reasons why that’s one of my favorite paintings by Waterhouse is the morality of it. Hylas is overcome by his sense of male superiority and entitlement. All he sees are women for him to conquer, allowing them to draw him into their natural environment and drown him. They will not confront him on land, so his ego is his undoing. It is the censors’ similar inability to see past the breasts that provides a textbook definition of irony.

  372. Jan says:

    It’s a disgrace (and a cheap PR trick on top of that) for an art gallery to jump on a populist bandwagon rather than preserving cultural heritage. What’s next? Will we start pouring concrete over Michelangelo’s David’s privates? Will the Madonnas in old churches get their breasts painted over? Sounds pretty much like the Middle Ages where “virtuous” furor once already silenced the voice of art. (To be a bit meaner we could draw comparisons with a well-known Austro-German’s war on “deviant” art…)

  373. Robby Ballard says:

    The gallery has made its point and has, I presume, received the attention it wanted. The point it has made, however, is irresponsible, reckless, and obtuse. At best, this is a phenomenally misguided attempt at social commentary; at worst, this is petty attention seeking behaviour the likes of which most petulant children would find excessive. The gallery and its decision makers should be embarrassed at the remarkable disservice they have done for the public as well as for the pieces they are entrusted with preserving.

  374. Josip says:

    You are protecting bigotry and imported savages. I’m giving you a helping hand: just tell me the amount of the cheque and the date of possible withdrawal of this beautiful painting. I’ll be happy to have it in my library for the cultural pleasure of my friends and myself.

  375. John Knight says:

    he removal of this Waterhouse painting is an utter disgrace and a step too far. This is PC gone insane. My wife and I had a print of this wonderful painting hung above our mantelpiece for years until it became too faded to keep. You are an utter disgrace to the World of Art. Resign and replace immediately before you shut the door on your way out to collect your P45.

  376. Bob says:

    This seems like a publicity stunt
    As curators you should know the stoey and history behind this amazing painting. Frankly you are giving the far right press everything that they could possibly want.
    This is about as series as debate on the content of a gallery as Eastenders is a true reflection on life
    Grow up and put it back or this will work negatively for you.

  377. Elaine Luke says:

    Conversation? “Art made tongue-tied by authority” (William Shakespeare).The censorship of this painting creates an appalling precedent.. Please restore the painting without delay.
    .“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
    ? Henry Louis Gates Jr.

    Art made tongue-tied by authority.

  378. Alan Melville says:

    Absolutely disgraceful to remove the Waterhouse painting. I thought Manchester was an enlightened city…pass the flat caps out, were’e heading back to the dark ages!

  379. Peter White says:

    I have removed my comments about Manchester Art Gallery’s decision to remove Waterhouse’s sublime painting from public display as some might find them offensive.

    Please feel free to discuss.

    In the meantime here is a quote form Stephen Fry –

    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so f***ing what.”

  380. Elaine Luke says:

    Conversation? “Art made tongue-tied by authority” (William Shakespeare).The censorship of this painting creates an appalling precedent.. Please restore the painting without delay.
    .“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.”
    ? Henry Louis Gates Jr.

  381. Daniel T says:

    I can see both (or more) sides of the argument here- and agree partially with all of them. MAG evidently wants to ‘provoke’ opinions and they’ve succeeded. I’m sure they’re soaking them all up, which can only be a good thing. In terms of criticising the nature/background of the gallery’s decision, it needs to be done but I would like to talk more about what could actually be put in place, whether short or long-term, to satisfy viewers and morals -not just in the world of 2018, but to suit all people, regardless of gender etc. Almost impossible to achieve; idealistic even.
    You can’t change the picture without taking a brush to it- and that might lead to a mob of angry conservators coming after you. All that can change is display context and reception. I’m not sure I can agree with removing the picture (hey -I’m looking at it online right now; it’s not as good as in person but a lack of surface texture and detail doesn’t wipe out the portrayal of women-), however good the gallery’s intentions, and I can understand why they’d wish to stop making a profit from postcards.. but it’s encouraging that MAG is unwilling to become stagnated and outdated. How about isolating the picture and having a discussion around that; taking into account the context of the time it was made and how this sits with modern/broader-reaching ideas- where they clash, and equally where they might sit together. There’s never going to be a total agreement that there’s even an issue to start with here- many will hate the idea of the painter being ‘incriminated’. I don’t think that needs to happen. If the painting is still up, people can enjoy it. If MAG make changes to curation arrangements and display then the picture will still be the same- it’s just that the gallery and members of the audience will feel more secure that a balanced approach is being considered. Those that are ticked off can wear blinkers to block out the PC stuff and enjoy the skill and atmosphere of the painting. You could discuss JWW’s take on the myth in-amongst alternative ways that it could have been done: (a bit immaterial maybe but opens discussion and interest) why might he have chosen to paint what he did on a personal and social/audience-based level? Why might this pose a problem (or not)? You could even get contemporary artists to paint their own versions of the scene, curate a show of this piece alongside similar works and topical contemporary works of art that provide a contradictory viewpoint/ seem neutral to either stance, or hold bookable group séances so that visitors can interrogate Waterhouse’s spirit and decision making. Sorry about that last one, no disrespect.
    I appreciate that it’s a lot, lot easier for a rambling 18 year old art student to plonk this out on a laptop than it is for large changes to be made to gallery displays, but I’d like to see a productive approach, hopefully with a result that everyone thinks is fab.

  382. Prem Pillai says:

    Reproductions of the painting have been removed from the gift shop. The explanation is patently dishonest and this is part of a culture war by ideologues who have marched through our institutions.

    “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

    (George Orwell, 1984)

  383. JaneEb says:

    If you don’t want it I will gladly hang it in my hall. This painting is the only reason I have visited your gallery

  384. Rachael Howard says:

    I grew up with a reproduction of this on the wall. It was and is one of my favourite paintings and I loved to sit and look at it.
    I have never seen it as a sexual image. Nudity is not automatically sex.
    The nymphs are not passive. They are in control of their environment. Removing these paintings is, to me, more a victorian suppression of the image of strong, independent women than the artwork is.

  385. Keith Hodkinson says:

    If this is not censorship but merely a “provocation” inviting discussion when are you going to re-exhibit the painting and on what grounds?

    On the basis of the justification given by the curator concerning the “takeover” of the museum most of your current collection could for once reason or another be removed from view. This walks and talks like a self appointed group’s censorship decision.

    The issue is not the painting: the issue is the judgement, perspective and fear of the curator. This feels very much like the type of judgement being exercised in the 1930s.

  386. Ulrich Spinner says:

    What a stupid idea. Should the Musée d’Orsay in Paris take down Courbets “L’Origine du monde” now:

  387. Daniel T says:

    *edit. I’m also with some of the comments above that discuss how open to interpretation this painting is and how positively it can be seen. But I’m just me.

  388. Jane says:

    ‘This gallery presents the female body as either a ‘passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme fatale’. Let’s challenge this Victorian fantasy!’

    How ridiculous. The gallery does not present the female body as anything; the paintings present the female body as interpreted by the artist and context in which they were produced.

    This headline-hungry move is not only shallow and misguided, but speaks of a dangerous ignorance and fear of other views that galleries largely exist to challenge and question.

  389. Emily Scooter says:

    Put the painting back on the wall and stop being silly! Mary Whitehouse and the Taliban would approve of what you’ve done, but few others. Manchester is bigger than this petty minded act – embarrassing – my home city! :-((

  390. Ambrose says:

    Patronising, condescending censorship. Who hires these people?

  391. Jan says:

    It’s very sad and disappointing to see a museum applying cheap censorship to their own collection. There is NOTHING wrong with this painting. I’ve seen modern art being way more provocative then this and it was heavily promoted. Please, don’t tell us what to see and what not to see. We can make up our own minds. We’re gliding into a soft-dictatorship where “elitists” say what the “others” may or can see. What will be next? Offensive books? Offensive movies? Historical artifacts? The BBC is already doing their best to align history with political correction. Where will this stop? When we all have one and the same opinion and agree on everything?

  392. Mercuri says:

    The weakness of this strategy is suggested by the phrase “Nobody is denying those views and ideas have existed in the past.” What ‘views and ideas’? Nineteenth-century British artworks obviously reflects some of the wider cultural values of their moment of production, but you need to make a much sharper argument if you’re suggesting that Waterhouse’s use of female bodies shares common ground with abuses of powers by contemporary global elites. I read elsewhere the you consider The Pursuit of Beauty a ‘bad’ title. It’s actually quite a neat summation of certain historical interests, but it does need more exposition and contextualisation, for sure. Such nuances don’t seem to be indicated in recent statements from the gallery, suggesting that this ‘intervention’ reflects a condescending understanding of nineteenth-century culture amongst individuals schooled in the ‘bubble’ of contemporary international art practices. That’s a bit disappointing in a gallery located in one of the nineteenth century’s most important urban centres.

  393. Linda McGrath says:

    If you want debate, ask the Musée d’Orsay for a loan of Courbet’s “L’Origine du Monde”, and as a woman I can say that Courbet was correct! If we cannot regard art in all its forms and appreciate the context then we will have lost the ability to understand the world. The removal of the J Waterhouse work of art is on a level similar to the logic of iconoclasts. The nymphs in this painting are empowered women, not objects for the male gaze and the curator is showing her ignorance of the Greek myth and her Marxist, feminist leanings. Put it back so it can continue to be valued by those who can understand and appreciate a beautiful work.

  394. Andy says:

    I am really shocked. This might sound bold, but this is what I feel: A museum decides what is and what is not degenerate art. This is what the Nazi regime did some decades before: Motives are removed as soon they challenge their ideology. The museum’s ideology seems to be: nudity = sexism; removing nudity = removing sexism. Honestly, how can prudery ever be an answer to sexism? And how can the current debate about sexism in Hollywood ever be related to nudity in ancient Greek mythology? There is sooo much wrong about this decision.

  395. Strike says:

    That’s how it began in the 1930s. Censorship is censorship, for whatever it might be the reason for….

  396. Theresa says:

    You know who did the same in art in germany in around 1940 .Precise …..Hitler !!!Entartete Kunst ???Does remind us of the dark Nazitime .I am a feminist .Write about issues young adolt women /children almost every week .But this is making the whole diskussion a laughing stock .Shame on you to want become publicity by hanging a wonderful picture in a cellar .This is not adding .On the contrary .If you want to do good …go on the streets , to the schools .Teach young children and addults how to socialize in a respect way to one and other ,This is so silly .Step in the NOW and let myhology be mythology .

  397. Paul says:

    This should be enough to say that all the talking is just pure nonsense

  398. Gina says:

    As a (female, I guess in this day and age I have to add this, sadly) conservator of art from Germany who has spend 6 months as an intern in an art gallery in England 10 years ago I am absolutely terrified and disgusted by what you have done! Shame on you.

    Apart from the utter nonsense this act of censorship committed by the new Victorian-style prudes is based on this doesn’t even make the slightest sense. This painting depicts a bunch of nymphs abducting a young gay man to use him for their pleasure because he’s beautiful. This depicts the females as the dangerous, powerful ones who are in control and the male as the powerless victim and object of their desire.

    I mean you can’t make this s*** up if you tried. No one is offended by this painting but you intolerant Puritans! You are keeping people from watching this publicly funded work of art all based on your extremist ideologies. Stop it! What’s next? Removing all paintings with nudity in them? Or only female nudity? Only displaying them with explanations on how people should view them because the plebs can’t be trusted to have the “right” feelings and opinions?

    What on earth were you thinking?!

  399. Gina says:

    Rich, this is a depiction of female desire! Hylas had a male lover, the nymphs dragged him into the water because he was so beautiful.

  400. AJ Fenton says:

    I was shocked to find out your gallery has removed my favourite JW Waterhouse painting. I saw it for the first time, back in 2009 when it was part of the Royal Academy of Arts J.W Waterhouse exhbition. Not once was I offended by it, nor did I feel, as a female, objectified by it. Instead, I was moved by its beauty and inspired by the story behind it. What’s next? Asking the Louvre to remove the Venus de Milo because it depicts a half-naked female?
    Hope you reconsider.

    I hope others like minded folk will sign the petition below:

  401. Giampiero Soccorso says:

    Just ignorant Puritanism

  402. Memnarch says:

    A German here.
    Looking at what happens atm around the world(including this case) i am reminded of burning books. And for those who didn’t sleep during their entire school….we know what happened, right?

    Feels like we are having a cultural downfall “correcting” things of the past. Did you know that here in germany, we have Political correct reprints of Kidsbooks? LLike stories of “Die kleine Hexe” or “pippi Langstrumpf”.

    I am afraid on what’s to come 🙁

  403. Rebecca L says:

    Censorship is censorship, whatever you choose to call it. I love art for its ability to transport me, to show me a different viewpoint, to challenge me. Most of all I love living in a society where I am free to choose the art I look at and enjoy. Having listened to the Radio 4 piece and having read Clare’s comments above which describe this painting respectively as ‘uncomfortable’ and the contextualising of it as ‘damaging’ to women; I would respond that the majority of women are not so foolish or delicate as to be damaged by a Victorian painting, particularly one that shows women in charge of the scene. I wonder does Clare understand the story of Hylas and the Nymphs? If the issue is the name of the gallery being ‘Pursuit of Beauty’ can it not be changed? Or better yet, can it not include much broader ideas of beauty including contemporary ones? Of far greater concern to many women today is the objectifying of women in media, music videos etc and a generation of young girls growing up trying to measure up to impossible ideals on social media. Start a conversation about that. I have always loved pre-Raphaelite paintings but have not been lucky enough to see Hylas and the Nymphs. With a bit of luck, it will make its way to a more enlightened gallery near me soon.

  404. Stefan Tratsis says:

    It’s despairating to misuse art for the purpose of any ideologic-political purpose.
    That’s not the real reason, art wants was born.

    Art was born to open new horizonts for the human eyes and to help understand there are more “sights” of the world we live in – except our own ones.

    Sad greetings from Immenstaad/Germany

  405. Bob Barnett says:

    Censorship. Period
    How can there be a discussion without the art being discussed. Bunch of right wing clowns

  406. Jamie Baker says:

    What an astonishingly fatuous decision, dressed up in the most transparently politicised (and painfully crass) rationalisations. Claire Gannaway’s ‘response’ is little more than a cobbled together list of leaden, de rigueur cliches masquerading as ‘analysis’.

  407. Ulrich says:

    Reading of the removal of a painting not fitting the right ideology i have to think of one little German word “entartet”. Rember it? Guess you do.

  408. Steve Moran says:

    What a useless and sad act of censorship in our great, liberal city of Manchester. I don’t understand the point that you are trying to make. This is an old Greek myth and the nymphs are naked in the water, I don’t believe swimming costumes were available at the time. You ask “how could artworks speak in more contemporary and relevant ways?”, does this mean we only display contemporary art? (because you can’t time travel to request that the artist please change their painting, although I am inclined to believe that you would if you could) and who chooses which art is relevant or not? This is a dangerous path to travel along. Please put the painting back where it belongs, I like to choose myself which artwork I want to see and not have somebody else make that decision for me.

  409. Matt says:

    I believe a painting done with equal skill depicting Ms. Boyce’s narrative would be far more effective than removing this masterpiece from the gallery. Sonia Boyce has great ideas and great things to say, however, I think if she wrote about how she interprets the meaning of this painting and displayed it in the gallery or elsewhere in the museum, it would serve her message better than depicting it with her skill as a visual artist.

  410. Lorna Burns says:

    As the night progresses I am getting more and more angry about this. We live in a world of so much cruelty and unfairness and art is a balm for the soul. Why remove beauty ,how can it offend? JW Waterhouse was an outstanding artist and his work has brought me comfort during turbulent times, I feel affronted by this lunacy. What next ? Will The Illiad be condemned to the same fate as another piece of mythological affrontery! This is not progress but regression back to when Sir Joshua Reynold’s claimed the PRB as degenerates, come on, have we not progressed since then. The list of censorable art works could be infinite at this rate, does Dali’s masterpiece St John on the Cross also offend for it’s “vulgar” display of naked flesh.I could go on……. Please remove these philistines from the art works for the sake of all art lovers!!!

  411. GC says:

    Are you insane?
    You have the good fortune of having this masterpiece and you remove it for some twisted PC idea that downed on you curator?

    What’s next, we scalpel down Milo’s venus and all classical statues depicting naked women? We burn any painting portraying a female nude? We cover them with a burka?

    You should be ashamed of yourself and the responsible should immediately be removed from his/her position, so to avoid the chance of more damage being done.

    Shame, eternal shame, nothing but shame.

  412. PS says:

    Sorry, Art has to provoke, did provoke and will continue to do so.
    We need to see and understand how former generations saw this and so on. Otherwise we could also not show ancient Arabian art. Or would forget the disturbing German art of the late 1930s.

  413. Mike says:

    Isn’t this like having politically minded people in charge of Manchester Central Library and have them declare certain books “problematic” (i.e. you don’t agree with them) and then removing them for an unspecified time so we can all consider how “problematic” they are (i.e. agree with you). Imagine thinking you had that moral authority? The arrogance. The small-mindedness.

  414. Rowena says:

    Censoring history is the road to ignorance and a hindrance to social evolution.

  415. ogdru jahad says:

    Why western europe plays with fire, do you want getting burned by totalitarian regime? We in easter europe still remember comunist regime. 1984 is not the manual, it is warning. You will get burned by political correctness, islam, censorship 🙁
    Why would you like to return to dark ages?

  416. Kenneth Whittaker says:

    I feel very strongly about this. The censorship of art from the past is dangerous and frightening (and this is censorship however you try to disguise that). The reference to book burning is entirely appropriate. Some years ago I went to an exhibition in Edinburgh showing art from Venice in the 16th and 17th centuries. I found many of the depictions of women very distasteful, especially the Titians and Tintorettos. “All boobs and buttocks” as one young man looking at the pictures rightly commented. Nevertheless, as works of art they were superb, and they reflected the age in which they were produced. Shall we remove those paintings from art galleries? I am ashamed that the city where I live has set this dreadful precedent.

  417. David Lea says:

    One dreads to think where this sort of attitude might lead, were it to catch on. Thank goodness you don’t own Caravaggio’s “Amor Vincitore”, because you’d surely have to put that on a public bonfire in Albert Square. For Heaven’s sake, the Waterhouse is a very well executed painting that was created in the Victorian period when all manner of attitudes were different to what is the current (and probably quite temporary) norm. Put it back up so that people can enjoy what they have a right to see.

  418. Tim Woolley says:

    This seems to me to be a pointless act of artistic censorship undertaken with no awareness of historical or cultural context whatsoever. For goodness sake put the painting back and let the grown ups who visit the gallery make their own minds up as to its merits.

  419. Lewis says:

    The feminist idea of starting a discussion: Let’s talk about that but hey, be aware that I DECIDE what’s approporiate to be taken down.

  420. Assunta Del Priore says:

    Shame on the curatorial team. In seeking to manipulate public response, you have allowed yourselves to be manipulated into doing something both disturbing and destructive to the status of feminist debate. Cycling collections is a legitimate aim, but you have removed this painting in service of a vacuous and misconceived project. As a feminist, I say: ‘Not in my name’. Put the painting back.

  421. Alison Marriott says:

    OK it is an attempt to stimulate debate and Its doing that. However in the longer term it is hard to discuss or be challenged by something which isn’t there. Really it just seems like a stunt to generate publicity and in this case there may be such a thing as bad publicity. I think it is unfortunate that art in Manchester is now associated with censorship and an ill conceived stunt. A feminist ‘friend’ of the gallery, who is rethinking my friendship.

  422. l a martin says:

    Well, you certainly have drawn attention to …. what???!!! Yourself!! … What a sad pathetic attitude to women,art, and the general public!! You have, with your attempt to make yourself appear interesting, knowledgeable and concerned actually managed to show yourself to be little more than a ‘jump on the band wagon’, attention seeker with a very twisted view of humanity …. Please do yourself and everyone else a favour, put that beautiful piece of art back up on the wall, then return to your desk and send your cv to every board of censorship you can think of, everywhere and anywhere … Just leave the job you are presently in ….. which does not appear to provide you with the excessive levels of control, power,and fame you so obviously desire …

  423. Matthias Wille says:

    Seriously? I don’t think this action has anything to do with starting a discussion about how art is to be presented today, but a lot with how to get attention in an ever more noisy world. I would say this was a very successful advertising campaign, no more no less.

  424. Gill Rowlands says:

    An appalling decision ! A beautiful painting … you should be ashamed! I suggest you allow another gallery to display this piece or apologise and reverse your decision! As a woman, I am really angry that other people are dictating how I should feel about a painting. I have loved this painting since I was about 14 … why do we have to debate it … just enjoy it and appreciate it! Really pathetic ! Disappointing and little more than censorship!

  425. Zhara says:

    You can’t change the past by removing art but you can change the future by showing it and giving the chance to discuss. Please don’t remove Art – we can learn so much from it. Iam scared about the future – what happens next? Should we avoid to read Anna Karenina? This is not Art Performance this denying our history.

  426. J Templeman says:

    Put simply…if you don’t want to display Hylas and the Nymphs, perhaps you might consider giving it to a gallery where it will be displayed and people will be able to enjoy it. Or to me…I’d gladly appreciate it each and every day.

  427. Jane Ashmore says:

    This is a beautiful painting, loved and adored by many. Please put it back on display. I do not understand the galleries rationale for removal at all.

  428. Linda Thompson-Mills says:

    I am astonished to hear about the removal of this beautiful example of pre-Raphaelite art. I am doubly offended that the excuse of some kind of feminism agenda is being used as the reason for this horrid decision. As a feminist I say you are doing the opposite of what I believe should be done to make your point, which would be to put up a painting to show the juxtaposition and ask for reactions. What you have done is taken that option away and only left the option for enthusiasts and fans of Waterhouse and this painting in particular to be frustrated, offended and angry. My planned trip to England later this year to view pre-Raphaelite art may well be canceled. I have little faith in the people in charge after this silly misinformed decision.

  429. derek says:

    removing something to start a debate about it’s suitability is nonsense. How can people make valid comments concerning a piece of art when you deny them access to it?
    The objectification of females in the past is an undeniable fact ,I would argue that today it is less so
    But how does the removal of a painting further the debate ,it seems you have shifted the focus onto one of censorship.
    People looking at this painting may read social issues of the time and perhaps the present into it, others may see it purely as a picture , some may have a high opinion some may be offended, the important point is they should have the opportunity to see.
    Is it your aim to sanitise art by putting it through a filter of modern values or to display art warts and all

  430. Dr. Donato Esposito says:

    Deeply distrurbing to say nothing of the ridiculousnes of such an action. This work is a major one in a major public collection. I see no purpose whatsoever it its removal. Disgraceful.

  431. Dr. Teresa Lehane says:

    At first I really did assume this was a joke! Now I’m very sad that you appear to assume that art gallery visitors are unable to think and reflect for themselves and that you need you to ‘provoke’ this. I find this deeply alarming and patronising. I do not know how to engage in this ‘conversation’ except to ask you to please re-hang this painting.

  432. Charles harding says:

    I’m not sure if Manchester thinks this is clever, by saying they are “stimulating debate.” Censorship means one group forcibly restricting another group from access to books information or art. No matter how well intentioned, it establishes a precedent of oppression. It will lead to fear, visits by enforcers, loss of freedom. Stalin and Hitler were enthusiasts. Manchester please apologise, and stick to art.

  433. Norma Shearer says:

    Wait, you’ve removed a painting and now want us to comment on a painting that isn’t there? You have already influenced the debate by suggesting it is so horrifying that you need to censor it. Eventually all your paintings will be heavily contextualised by middle class liberals. You’ll be like prison guards making the world safe for the rest of us, with art works for inmates. When that happens it’ll be time to close the doors forever.

  434. Margot says:

    This is a very brave move by this curator, stop calling it censorship. Will be interesting to see how they bring the gallery into the 21st century, very exciting to see this. #MAGSoniaBoyce

  435. Martin Lessons says:

    ‘How could artworks speak in more contemporary, relevant ways?’ is asked in the preamble above. For one thing, you’ve actually got to see an artwork in order to have a response; for another, why do they need to speak thus, even if they could? Choosing to remove this particular painting in itself suggests an agenda, one which to me at least seems utterly irrelevant.

  436. Debby Van Linden says:

    good idea! 🙂 it takes courage to stand out with this! Finally! We get females from a masuline point of view, passive and naked to please men. How would men feel if they saw only men painted naked and passive?

  437. Jeffrey Davis says:

    Even the Nazis in their exhibition of ‘Degenerate Art’ displayed the works that they didn’t approve of! This was once my favourite gallery, which I visited often whilst my future wife was a student at Manchester University. How sad that it has sunk to this level. Presumably if Cabanel’s ‘Birth of Venus’ was in your collection it would have to go too.

  438. C. Roper says:

    I remember seeing this painting at the Waterhouse exhibition at the Royal Academy a few years ago. Interestingly it was originally exhibited in Manchester and had already been purchased by Manchester Corporation before being displayed in the Royal Academy the following year (1897).There is so much more to the picture than just the seven nymphs, and to concentrate on that element as the gallery seems to have done is to narrow the view of the painting. It could be that Pre-Raphaelite art is falling out of favour with the art establishment again.

  439. Jim Loftus says:

    I would be very grateful if you would consider some of the questions and misgivings I have regarding the removal of Hylas and the Nymphs.

    The painting is a historical object of particular importance to the North West. The Pre Raphaelites were patronised by the new money of the northern industrialists, whilst the established cognoscenti further south favoured more edgy impressionist works. This contrast is enormously instructive about the cultural and economic forces of the time which still reverberate across this country and the world. If you set the precedent of obscuring these works you inhibit our view of our own history and culture, however troubling.

    I broadly support the drive within contemporary Art and curation to question and reform the representation of the body (Indeed, it has concerned itself with little else). However, the Nymphs of the classical myths represent the numinous nature deities of the pre-archaic period. As such they are an unbroken link with our deep antiquity. They survived the overlay of the Olympian gods, Romanisation and even Christianity. Whilst it is true that they were characterised as beautiful young women (not necessarily pubescent) It would be a great loss for them to be excised from our cultural memory now. Especially as they are synonymous with the sexual freedoms we have fought so hard for in our own time and culture.

    Additionally, Hylas represents a gay male paradigm that is all too rare in contemporary Western culture. A male beauty and also an accomplished and renowned warrior. His murder (not seduction) by the wiley water nymphs is all the more tragic for its truncation of the deep reciprocal love with his mentor Heracles.

    I understand the physical removal of the work and it’s filming form part of an artwork by Sonia Boyce. However, curator Claire Gannaway talks of her embarrassment about the whole display and claims the removal of the painting was the result of ‘many people coming together.’ Who are these ‘many people’ and how representative are they? who selected them and how?
    I fully appreciate the need to make collections and curatorial practice more accessible, inclusive and representative. In fact, funding demands it. Therefore, should we not also examine the curatorial profession itself more closely to ensure it is as representative as possible?

    Hiding this work and representations of it reveals nothing apart from a lack of trust that we can make informed and even nuanced interpretations for ourselves.
    I fear that the fact you have chosen to make an object invisible as a means of starting a conversation about it is perhaps revealing about your wider attitude to discourse. As of course is the brevity of response necessitated by the post-it note.
    After consideration and with regret, I accuse you of censorship and ask you to desist.

  440. Jeffrey Davis says:

    Holman Hunt’s ‘Scapegoat’ in your collection is clearly a religious painting. It might be considered offensive to atheists – so why not remove that one as well?

  441. James Ellis says:


  442. Ian Tatlock says:

    Whichever way you look at this, it IS censorship and begs the rhetorical question, who or what next? You might argue that a large amount of art deals with fallen women and this redresses that balance by portraying a fallen man. J. W. Waterhouse is a national treasure and this is one of his better, more famous and beautifully executed paintings – please stop being silly and replace it now. Thanks.

  443. John Towers says:

    Doesn’t it invoke a pre-medieval imagination?
    Isn’t there something wonderful from that imagination to give to the 21st century? Faries and goblins and swords gifted from lakes.

    I’m not sure what the decision really was to remove this piece, but instantly there’s a capture to the imagination.

    Not all art should and does has this affect, but this certainly does and I’d be very happy to see it displayed further.

  444. David Brittain says:

    For goodness sake just put the damn picture back up and let people enjoy it. Ridiculous gesture which is self publication and nothing more. Don’t give me all this nonsense about ‘new thinking we can generate through it’. Martin Grimes, what do you even mean by that pretentious statement?!!
    Just grow up, please.

  445. tam hinton says:

    It’s an amazing painting and I’ll be really sad not to be able to see it. Its open to loads of interpretations and you can’t discuss it if you can’t see it.

    Surely it would be better to leave the picture and add new pictures with new ideas to contrast it?

  446. Anne Hastings says:

    ‘How could artworks speak in more contemporary, relevant ways?’ is your question, but why do you presume they have to. Isn’t the fact that they are from a different era speak for itself. Why bring them into the debate in the world today. My question is should it be up to the curators of public art galleries, museums, etc. to try and change attitudes and hold to account a piece of artwork to exemplify what is happening in the world today? To me (a woman) the beauty of this artwork should be appreciated and not taken from public view on a whim or experiment of social engineering.

  447. Valerhon says:

    Hylas is about to be destroyed by supernatural creatures who take the form of beautiful nymphs. These nude forms are assumed to be decorative or objectified simply because they are female. In removing the painting, aren’t you adding fuel to that assumption? Aren’t you also speaking for that artist regarding his intent? In “Challenging this Victorian Fantasy”, you’re creating the fantasy. Those words are also a dog-whistle for their intent – censorship.

  448. Steven Kelly says:

    The worst aspect about this clanger of a decision is that the topic under discussion has become the removal itself, with the (alleged) reason for its removal squeaking timidly in the background.

  449. Simon says:

    I loved this painting when I was a student in Manchester in the 1970s, and I still love it now. Put it back and stop trying to be clever

  450. The removal of the painting is a laughable bit of ideological grandstanding. Feminist art theory seems to have bedazzled these curators into a painfully embarrassing self importance. They seem to think their job of “framing” art for public viewing somehow puts them on a par with the artists themselves. A little humility, modesty, and self effacement before the art they are hired to serve would go a long way. I know one thing: this Yankee tourist will not set foot in this museum until the painting is restored to its place; instead I’ll spend my vacation dollars at the Louve.

  451. Matthias (Switzerland) says:

    In the 19th century it was art to paint it. Today removing it is considered an art performance.
    I weep for our civilization!

  452. RICHARD HUXFORD says:

    Scandalous. What right do you have to make a unilateral decision to take it down and impose your personal interpretation of the work: ‘”passive decorative form’ or a ‘femme fatale” on everyone else.
    Rather than leave a pathetic blank space put it back up and surround it with photos of drunken women in states of undress and distress on Lady’s Days ” at UK leading horse races. You will then certainly contemporise the issue and amply demonstrate that the classical virtues of women depicted in the painting are to be preferred to the ladette behaviour which, sadly, seems to be preferred by so many young women nowadays. Dont be a wimp. publish the results of your action – majority overwhelmingly in favour of restoration of the painting and give a firm date when it will be reinstated. At the moment you are doing yourself and the gallery no favours.

  453. David Findler says:

    If art is removed from view the observer is denied the opportunity to consider the art for themselves, they are been told what to think by its absence.

  454. Paulo Lopes says:

    So sad!! Art is freedom… Everything can be offensive to someone.

  455. Let me parse this. A classical theme from Greek mythology, the kidnapping of Hylas, Hercules’ squire, by a group of nymphs (water creatures resembling females) is painted hundreds of times. Then someone comes over and explains that this should be understood in terms of a current debate which is not about Greek mythology, but about the need to have art to tell a different story (which is not the story of Hylas and the nymphs) because someone has obsessed about the female body and has extracted this from the whole context of the tale which the work of art is explicitly telling (the name of the piece is quite clear, I believe).

    So what is next? Many great works of art depict the female body, sexual connotations and even horrible crimes such as the rape of the sabine women, the killing of saints, war, destruction, sadness, even eternal condemnation. Things which we certainly don’t approve of as a society today. How would it be relevant to hide them from public view? From Saint George killing the dragon to the Bayeux tapestry (not to mention music related to military events such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture), the opportunities seem to be endless for a dedicated censor.

    Art should serve to educate us. If you cannot offer a clear explanation of the painting and choose to favor the view of people who are unable to grasp whole concepts and center on a limited attitude where being offended and scandalized is the norm, you should maybe go into some other trade. Art is too threatening for your fragile worldview.

  456. Paul says:

    Art of any era is intended to provoke thought and debate. Hiding it achieves neither. I’m amazed anyone considers this remarkable painting of a Greek myth to be pornographic. Censorship is never the answer; what next, blankets over every naked sculpture? Put it back and let the public form their own view, don’t insult our intelligence.

  457. I fully support freedom of expression, free speech. Yes, have the debate, but why remove a painting to do so? The decision makers behind this removal should heed the words of the great nineteenth-century American anti-slavery campaigner — and former slave — Frederick Douglass. In his pamphlet, A Plea for Free Speech, he said: ‘To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. It is just as criminal to rob a man of his right to speak and hear as it would be to rob him of his money.’
    The public is being robbed of this right today. In countries where art is censored or destroyed it is particularly important for people of colour, curators and the general public to uphold Douglass’s enlightened principle that ‘liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants.’ The removal of course could be temporary to make way for another commissioned new work, but that’s not the reason given. A more nuanced public debate about the work, which is of its time, and rooted in classical Greek mythology, would’ve been a better route to take.

  458. Ray says:

    Clare Gannaway says:

    “We’d like this gallery to tell a different story in 2018, rather than being about the ‘Pursuit of Beauty’ with a binary tale about how women are either femmes fatale or passive bodies for male consumption.”

    Just because Gannaway has a simplistic binary view of female beauty is NO reason to remove this painting. It simply reveals her lack of understanding. Early classical art was more concerned with notions of male beauty with the female form often covered. Surely the neo-classical interest in the female form was a necessary corrective?

    All this publicity stunt proves is the superficiality of modern interpretations of historical art. It’s a faddish nod to our increasingly intellectually shallow world.

    The real issue here is the gallery’s incompetence.

  459. Michael Schilling says:

    If you don’t need the painting anymore let me know.

  460. Richard Wels says:

    Promoting a debate? No, a cheap publicity stunt to promote a new exhibition. Please – what depths are you prepared to plumb for publicity. You really don’t have us fooled.

  461. Michael Magid says:

    Clare Gannaway/Sonia Boyce, Or anyone else there. I doubt that you have created something equally great as the art of the pre-Raphaelites. It looks like you wanted popularity, you want people talking about you. And this would not be a big trouble if you hadn’t used with this purpose the dirty censorship. Your “feminism” or your “political correctness” resembles censorship in totalitarian States. While journalists, writers and just the women of Iran are fighting against censorship, you are limiting the right of the people to see the paintings of a great artist. This is Shame!

  462. Ann M Hall says:

    Just makes me feel incredibly angry! Love the Pre-Raphaelite collection at Manchester Art Gallery and as a woman don’t see anything distasteful in this image representing a Greek myth. What I do find distasteful;

    Being told what I ought to think by elitist people who feel they are better than me.

    Images being taken out of their historical and cultural context and seen through a sleazy 21st century viewpoint

    The feeling that book burning is on it’s way. The way public art is hidden without it’s owners – the people of Manchester – being informed or consulted.

    A concern that the next step will be sale to a private collector

    As a publicity stunt this has caused a great deal of distress to a lot of people

    Hope the painting does return – and soon. Certainly puts me off visiting the gallery in the interim!

  463. Susi says:

    I am shocked about the removing of this beautyfull kind of Art! This is one oft the few Pictures, that want to see i real. Ony day I will have the time to do this. You should not compare a painting that was created centurys ago, with the situation today. We live in other times, where the women HAVE more rights. We work every day to make this world safer for our daugthers, nices and women in generality. So removing this painting from his rightfull place, doesn’t make really sense! It is a wunderfull interpretation of the Legend of Hylas. Please do us all a favor, and put it back to the Wall

  464. Helen Marsden says:

    I went without my dinner to buy a print of this painting when I was sixteen. It feeds the soul.

  465. Hideous and totally pernicious left wing censorious opportunistic publicity stunt. Here’s the “conversation” , I won’t be signing off my foundation’s donation this year. Sack the pretentious and desperately ill- informed “ modernist” who sanctioned this totally ridiculous stunt.

  466. Tim says:

    Why does everything have to be over-interpreted according to the politically correct attitudes of today? Tate Britain is the same but at least the works of art are kept on display. Put it back and allow us to enjoy a great painting for its own sake. Save your extreme opinions for contemporary art.

  467. Jan Smith says:

    What a pathetic and narrow minded act. How long before we start hiding the piano legs again in case they offend.

  468. Michael says:

    Suggest to remove the story from greek mythology as well. From all records. And why to let the painting rott in the archive? As this so called art might just block us on our path to greater human beings, would suggest to burn all bridges behind and light the fire up with books and these paintings. Wait…wasn’t that proposed before?

  469. Paul Rumbold says:

    This is appalling! Hylas has been a favorite of mine for years – it is my screensaver! Who are you to judge the taste of the day many years ago? What will we be left with if all tits and willies are removed from historical art? Stop applying your prurient PC sensibilities and grow up! Bask in the warm glow of the reaction you have caused, then bugger off!

  470. Craig says:

    It seems we have come so far as to censoring ourselves now. It’s just a painting that has to be seen in historic context. I think this was a really, really bad decision!

  471. A.Beale says:

    I’m staying out of the gallery until the painting is back. I won’t be putting up a post-it note because that might be seen as supporting what you are doing. Long-term I see the PC lot taking over access to the arts, after that it will be online only for the rest of us. Must be fantastic knowing you’re always right and everyone else is wrong. It’s about building walls now.

  472. Ellen D. Murphy says:

    Do you not trust your visitors enough to let us make up our own minds? Your removing the painting sends a message that you, the high-and-mighty curators – by virtue of your education or class or received wisdom or sensibilities – know better than we, the rabble of the public – the “great unwashed” – what is appropriate for us to view. Is that really what you are trying to convey? How do you expect to stimulate discussion about this painting if people cannot see it – or even postcard reproductions of it in your gift shop? I am not afraid of art. I am capable of thinking. Don’t patronise or condescend or make choices for me. As a woman – a feminist for half a century – I cannot comprehend this mindless, censorious act.

  473. Liz McLaren says:

    The painting is what it is. How are you to change it? Why should you change it? It’s simply a beautiful picture. Full stop. Please put it back and stop trying to be so clever. And whatever you do, DON’T try this trick with the glorious Light of the World.

  474. Stephen L. Taylor says:

    Are you absolutely serious? Removing this piece of art is beyond the pale! Does one not know the myth of Hylas, son oh Heracles(?) When did we become like the Taliban, destroying or hiding works of art, that does not fit our current narrative

  475. Anna says:

    What sort of militant feminist is running Manchester Art Gallery? There has to be one for such a ludicrous action to have taken place. The painting is an instantly recognisable classic by one of the UK’s great painters. Someone will suggest we destroy all books about and all references to mythology next, as this scene is just one of the subjects that the PC brigade would probably target. If this picture belongs to the art gallery then I guess it belongs to the nation. If so, and they are not going to display it, then send it somewhere where the public can choose if they would like to view it or not

  476. Francesca Ardigo says:

    Honestly I don’t care too much how you display it… just bring it back, it’s beautiful.

    However – just to make a point – it does not make any senese to rewrite history, if that was a Victorian fantasy I don’t see why deny or cover it – or trying to rebalance it with what you (and who are you by the way?) consider more appropriate!

  477. Andreas says:

    I was planning to visit Manchester from Berlin, in August; now I know for sure that I will not; I see very few differences with the nazi ‘entartete Kunst’ (degenerate art); and please, we are not children, please do not tell silly stories about debates and so on;

  478. Margaret James says:

    Silly idea! The art gallery is not a plaything for leftie lovies, it’s for everyone. You know that’s a loved painting, stop messing around, put it back. Don’t take your right to public money for granted.

  479. Robert Watts says:

    If you’re not going to display this masterpiece maybe you could donate it to another gallery, one run by adults who are actually educated in art, then you can go back to your Spiderman models and soft bricks for the kids.

  480. Jeremy Yates PRCA says:

    Not much more to say, in view of the sentiments expressed by contributors to the blog and elsewhere. As a mere artist I at at a disadvantage – I feel I, as well as many others evidently, am being put at a disadvantage by the assumptions made by the institution’s curator of contemporary art about the necessity to have a ‘directed’ conversation about contemporary art theory and fashionable notions of what is suitable to be seen by the public.

  481. Ulrich Spinner says:

    The modern alternative:

    Portrait de Frank Lloyd Wright, Couverture « The New York Times Literary Supplement » (2009)

  482. Ryan McCourt says:

    Let us first dismiss the spurious claim that this was NOT an act of “censorship”.

    The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the verb to “censor” as “to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable.” The fact that the work in question was indeed “censored” is incontrovertible.

    It is easy to see why the curator in question denies this plain fact. So, instead, I suggest the museum put the painting back, and remove the curator, to “start a conversation”, as they say…

  483. True S. says:

    How can this be a ‘conversation’ when you lay out your opinion at the top of the page? No; it’s you, the elite, telling us, the plebs’ how we are now required to think. And to help us with our re-education you are removings the things (owned by us) that offend your sensibilities. It’s Soviet style censorship and it stinks.

  484. Horst Liebner says:

    A gay guy, depicted at the very moment before he eventually falls into a lake (where he presumably drowns … or is made immortal, on behalf of his gleaming beauty?), because being attracted -or pulled?- by innocently leering nude girls; mourned by his lover, one of the most virile heroes ever, up to the point that his abductees feel forced to turn him into an echo that, they hope, would mislead the raging hero … painted in an age where both nudity and homosexuality were a true taboo. Say, what more do you need to discuss the issues you are so concerned about?

  485. Peter Crosland says:

    Straight down the heffalump trap.
    Put it back or send to somewhere dwelling in more enlightened times. For anyone who seriously wants to have a little perve at this painting and honestly I have no idea why they might, Google have not tried to make it go away.

  486. katharine boyd says:

    I’m a straight female. I love the picture. Please don’t be puritanical. It’s terrifying what is going on. This is a beautiful painting of a myth. It is a historic painting Be smart. Have a show discussing the constructs of beauty and body images, not censorship.

  487. KT says:

    1) Who has the power here? (the curator).
    2) Who is being hurt? (those who love this painting, mainly teenage girls).

    So if one wishes to discuss the abuse of power…who is the abuser, and who are the abused?

  488. The twittering, bubble-brained explanation offered for the removal of this beautiful, world class, timeless Waterhouse painting of the Greek myth is just pitiful.
    Regardless of the howling winds of short term, trendy opinion, having such petty, twit, candle-in-the-wind, sex-negative, priggish curators at a serious museum is pitiful. This art celebrates millenia-old MYTHOLOGY and the human form, in exquisite combination. I say, to the guillotine with the twit curator Gannaway! I propose recurring Hylas and the Nymphs costumed flash mobs across the UK until this wonderful painting is restored to prominent display!

  489. Amy says:

    Geez, people, it’s ONE painting! I think art will survive. I marvel that everyone is so up in arms at the mere suggestion of rethinking how things have always been, by (temporarily) removing one piece. Perhaps having a blank spot, to represent what is missing is a good thing. I don’t think the point is that this particular piece is offensive. It is simply suggesting that we ponder in a different way.

  490. Neil McDiarmid says:

    Dear Sirs
    I admire this tremendous provocation and am delighted that the responses have supported that art should not be censored. Please confirm when the painting will be re-hung.
    The Italian press has missed the point of the provocation and note this as your following political correctness. You may consider some summary of the whole adventure.

  491. Keren Gilfoyle says:

    I have been fascinated by Waterhouse’s work since a teen, as have other writers I know (all of us ardent feminists). Far from seeing his women as passive ‘eye candy’ for male titillation, we all find them strong and empowering, women who are not afraid to move into male spaces and make their own demands on them. Removing this major work in Waterhouse’s oeuvre would be a significant blow to the re-establishment not only of this artist, but of Victorian painting in general. Doing so because of some latter-day prudery shows the people of this century in a very poor light indeed!

  492. The Exegesis of this painting is a narrative of Distraction. Hylas as an Argonaut is symbolic of a young man on a Spiritual Quest, which is to pursue the Golden Fleece as part of that entourage. The Nymphs are Symbolic of Beauty as the Distraction and are Sirens who lead him to his fate and in that sense are femme fatales. This is an Archetypal snare for anybody pursuing Spiritual transformation and Ascendence and this is the important interpretative message of the painting which Waterhouse was probably aware of and for that reason, it is important to continue to display. Nudity or Pornography are not relevant to this message. Nudity in a Painting is a sign of Purity often.

  493. You’re trying to insert your politics between the art you were hired to present and the public. That’s a shame. You assume there’s a problem with the painting. Let me suggest that for millions who love that painting, the problem is with your arrogance and the 21st century postmodern fantasy that it’s trying to substitute. Put the painting back and treat it with respect!

  494. Fiona bottomley says:

    If you want to provoke debate then put the picture up and ask for comments on the points you would like to be discussed ( you could display various pictures in a space designed for this). How can we debate the meaning of a picture we are not allowed to see? The comment that this picture displays a Victorian (outdated) view is ridiculous, do you expect a painting of this time to show, 21st century values? We go to art galleries to see beautiful paintings from all eras; we are capable of making our own decisions if needed but sometimes we just want to admire the beauty of the art and the skill of the artist. No painting should ever be removed because of someone else’s interpretation of it and certainly not because a few people find it offends their sensitivities. I have no time for the new fascism.
    Put it back and then I’ll come and see it, I do not want to see displays defined not by what has been included but by what has been removed and until then I shall not return to the gallery.

  495. Cokie says:

    I see the women in this painting as the *aggressors* (read the myth, fer Chrissakes). They’re about as “passively decorative” as a pack of lionesses closing in on their prey. I’m a feminist and I see nothing to object to in this eerie, beautiful painting. Stop censoring art because of the interpretation YOU are putting on it.

  496. John Theo Konczak says:

    Ohhh…. too funny.

    To keep things compelling, sometimes you just have to rotate out the well known and rotate in the soon to be captivating.

    But don’t let the truth get in the way of everyone feeling the need to get tweaked.

    Why don’t ya’all come on down and have a good time seeing what’s in the space next! Bring a sandwich, setting stool and a sketch pad!!

  497. Pat Roberts says:

    The left have taken over the gallery and they never retreat, they think they own everything, even our thoughts. Reduce the subsidy the gallery gets (send the savings to an NHS hospital), force them to charge entry (like York and Brighton) then the gallery must take notice of the public. A collection of beautiful old paintings is not something to be ashamed of, or a toxic problem to be defused.

  498. Kev Ferrara says:

    It looks very much like she’s using Waterhouse’s reputation, his community stature, his greatness, to give herself a nice big boost up in publicity and stature. And on top of that, she’s putting herself above his work by casting herself, no less, as its judge. The arrogance is truly disgusting. She’s not only blatantly riding on Waterhouse’s coattails, but kicking him in the process. Grotesque.

    The curator should be ashamed for taking part in this. You are a custodian of a collection built long before you. Its cultural legacy stretches far outside your purview. Do your job and honor what you have been deemed worthy of protecting. Live up to your station. Don’t defile it simply to bloody “virtue signal” to your political. Neither of you are worthy to judge this work.

  499. Sandra Cranston says:

    This beautiful and subtly provocative piece should be on display. It would be a shame to visit the gallery and be unable to view it.

  500. This is the ‘Monstrous Regiment’ writ large! Hylas and the Nymphs isn’t about male titillation, rather it’s a celebration of Victorian awe of the Classics and the Classical World. Please bring it back.

  501. David Broughton says:

    Degenerate art? Such arrogance, put it back!

  502. John Russell says:

    Despite the attempts at clever spin, this smacks entirely and unambiguously of that recently growing odorous mixture of misandry, political correctness and censorship power. This is certainly shameful cultural vandalism, and there’s no doubt that this curator has done us all a profound cultural disservice, and I agree that her irrational act will almost certainly damage the reputation of the Gallery itself.

  503. Bernd Bausch says:

    “How can we talk about the collection in ways which are relevant in the 21st century?”

    I think the best way to talk about these things is after removing anything that might give food for thought. We should only keep such artwork that doesn’t risk offending anybody.

    Alternatively, we could continue to display this painting and other pieces of art and talk about them eyes closed.

  504. Graham Clark says:

    Whoever is behind this childish act of interruption needs to grow up…

    …UNLESS they are genuinely wanting to explore the responses and reactions that this removal is bound to catalyse.

    Underlying such an act is the usual “educated middle-class” (and those that take on this view for themselves) assumption that “the masses” are incapable of understanding the contextual framework that has given birth to any given piece of work, without prior direction by those who think they know better: “We can’t trust them to really know what this picture is about”

    “It is a bunch of naked young women in water with some young man – wait a minute – that girl is trying to pull him in!”

    What IS that picture about?

    Well, maybe the people who have done this thing DO know the classical context. Maybe they do know who Hylas was, and his background, and what happened to him.

    I do hope so.

  505. Alex D says:

    The gallery says that it has been “overwhelmed by the depth of feeling expressed”. Please ask yourself why it come as such a surprise, could it be that you out of touch with ordinary people? In an ideological bubble? An echo chamber? What about political diversity at the gallery – is there any? And are there any men working at a senior level at the gallery? I’ve never noticed any. What is the gender balance? Not too late though, put the painting back and admit you have made a mistake.

  506. jason says:

    Errr, if you wanted to challenge the Victorian view you should have been there way back then to make your statement. It’s been and gone. If you wish to rewrite history with blank pages, please, record it in your own diary and not in public. You have your ideas about the modern world, but sadly, not everyone shares your ideas or looks upto you and your idea that you are “progressive”. Lame is a better word than progressive. Let’s debate that. Let’s challenge the view that men worked in fields and coal mines, and some wore top hats. Am i sounding progressive; or lame?

  507. Paul Williams says:

    I hope that the gallery will follow the logic of its argument and destroy this and similar paintings that objectify the female form and pander to male fantasies. A grand burning of degenerate art will provide space for those artworks that are deemed to present the correct views about the human form.

  508. Matt says:

    Stop Censoring art, we’re not in stalinist Russia yet. If you want to make a statement try talking about it, rather then removing it. Disgusting.

  509. Ingrid says:

    I would have hoped the institution of the Art Gallery would provide sanctuary from the moral opinion du jour, however righteous it may be. It is not the purpose of the gallery to guide its visitors in any direction. It merely exists to house and display the ideas and art of artists, from this we question. Why not say, ‘here’s how Victorians viewed women’….no apologies needed.

  510. Magret says:

    Well played, Curators. Well played.
    I don’t think you could have started a discussion like this with a sign, or an essay, or a speech.
    The simple act of taking away provoked this much emotional outburst.
    As I understand – from a continent away – the rest of the usual exhibition of naked women is still intact.
    or a moment to consider.
    Why are there so many female nudes.
    But not so many males.
    Why are there so many male artists, but only a small handful of prominent women? And those often overshadowed by their male ‘mentors’?
    Female beauty.
    It is fascinating, over the course of millennia, or just the few decades we can remember in person.
    A painters reality, does it compare to the actual model?
    Or is it like the photoshop fails that turned gorgeous women in grotesk jokes of the internet world?
    Throw in some misogyny, some more sinister attacks, and voila, we have the stew that makes us consider what we have taken for granted.

    Again, Well played.

  511. Willem says:

    As far as I know this is the first time in history a museum sets a dangerous standard. Before, dictators, religious leaders or other mad men (yes, all men) had this privilege. On one point I agree: the curator succeeded in putting herself and the art gallery in the centre of the attention. Until this morning I never heard of both of them. Living in Belgium is not that bad.

  512. SK says:

    Censoring a piece in order to promote discussion? How hilariously Orwellian.

  513. Peyton Phillips says:

    I suspect that many of the paintings in their care are deeply embarrassing to them. Imagine the horror of having to go to work knowing you had to display and curate so many items that you despise. Better to stick the most “problematic” ones in the basement and spew ideology over the rest.

  514. How dare you allow your stupid political ideas to determine what artworks you display? This “conversation” has not been deemed necessary in the 120+ years since this beautiful painting was completed, and it is not necessary now. Can we next expect the Manchester Art Gallery to mount a “Degenerate Art” exhibit like the one the Nazis presented in 1937? This is nothing but censorship by modern-day puritans and my contempt for you is boundless.

  515. Josep F says:

    What do you wish to see?

    A gallery that’s tolerant and inclusive.


    A gallery that’s intolerant and exclusive.

    I believe I won’t have my morals corrupted by a piece of “art”. The debate is the piece itself in itself. Love comes naturally to mankind. Hatred does not. Repression causes hate. I do understand your cause though, it is even a noble one. Yet Art in itself is meant to be free and a society that has banned or burnt art in the past or present has always left an ugly mark on history. No matter what said cause was back then and now.

    Kind regards Josep F.

  516. Linnette says:

    Well done for taking your inspiration from the world’s most oppressive regimes to protect public modesty from a Victorian Pre-Rafaelite painting. Now could whoever did this please temporarily remove themselves to go, sit down and think about what they’ve done and why anyone should now trust them to manage a a public art collection – while we have a debate on censorship in the 21st century?
    When is “Hylas and the Nymphs” going back on display?

  517. Jude Connor says:

    At last! Congratulations Manchester Art Gallery! It is part of womens’ long oppression that the ways in which we are represented perpetuate offensive stereotypes about what we are, and are not, useful for (to men). I have always felt angry and disturbed when visiting art galleries that my gender is still being represented thus, without challenge or comment. Thank you.

  518. KGM1970 says:

    How poor all this, how poor the museum’s directors. Nobody gets your message, sorry…. so just put the painting back, show respect for art & culture and stay reasonable!

  519. Noid Zarts says:

    I have concluded that the Curator of the Manchester Art Gallery is absolutely correct.
    I also believe that the following so-called works of art should be removed from public display to challenge the degrading manner in which Victorians viewed any number of groups vulnerable to visual exploitation, perceptions which continue to persist and damage art and culture.
    1. Heroic Metallic Men – includes younger skinny men and some S&M, B&D – I weep for the older generations.
    2. Naked men in general who were obviously being objectified – come on chaps, who amongst us are not tired of being treated as a sex symbol, clearly the cause of this young 19 Century man’s ennui.
    3. Dead dudes and floaty male supernatural entities:
    To quote the Don – You know I’m right, I know I’m right – so am I right or what?
    4. Small devoted dogs – this dog was loyal to his deceased master until his own death – did Bobby the Scotty ever have the opportunity for personal agency or self-actualisation?
    5. Centaurs – who will speak for the Centaurs if we don’t?

  520. Mac says:

    And for the art galley’s next political correctness stunt I understand they will be burning books in the public square whilst a rabid crowd cheers them on. The art gallery’s director needs to read some history and get a grip.

  521. ulrics says:

    Censorship ist never a good idea. Everbody should get an den oppinion about art. Even labels anderen description change the way of viewing. Without the name I would come to an different conclusion. A guy is horny for those young women. Just like Thema actual discussion about sexism. If you look in his face you see hunger or even lust. As an artist myself how much perspective matters.

  522. carl says:

    censorship is the end of art. i am german – we have some experience with destroying art by ideology.

  523. Theodora says:

    It is unbelievable that 1 male person in the USA has given certain women worldwide a podium. Art has nothing to do with this, but Mrs Clare Gannaway is now in the spotlight because of the abuse of something that is called art. You certainly must have a life in which you feel bored to attract attention to you. As a woman I would be ashamed to do something like that.

  524. Hans Barth says:

    What a wonderful idea to remove the painting temporarily! And to make people say what they think about it. All theses aggressive, even hateful comments. The painting and the comments are part of the same patriarchal world vision which makes us suffer.

  525. Kevin O'Keeffe says:

    This is a great and highly renowned painting. If you’re not going to display it, then make it available to some institution that isn’t afflicted with progressive Philistinism. You are loathsome cowards, and you disgust me. You don’t deserve the honor of safeguarding important works of art. #DEFENESTRATION

  526. Will says:

    Does it need to come to armed conflict before this SJW/PC madness stops?

    Stop this insanity. What’s next? Taking hammers to Venus of Milo, plastering over the walls of the 16th chappel, shredding every copy of the painting of the 3 graces, burn all copies of fifty shades of grey? Ok, I wouldn’t mind exactly the latter, but the point is that it’s a slippery slope we’re getting on.

    If this hypersensitivy continues I think we’re not far of from getting another Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

  527. A.I. says:

    I hope this is just a provocation. Our history (and history of art) has often male dominance and objectification of women as a background, often also exploitation and social inequalities. We should not forget that, but this is no reason to erase beauty and history from our life. Please put the picture back and celebrate its beauty!

  528. NearlySane says:

    Well done, this has got you and the painting huge amounts more publicity than actually showing it.

    Having said that, I have to say that, combined with the stushie about the Balthus, I am somewhat bemused at the change in who wants to challenge artworks being shown from the 80s when the objections were to such as Mapplethorpe and Serrano.

  529. Caroline says:

    The curator has poor judgement. Read the mythology and stop being such a prudish person. Worst decision ever, shows that we are heading in a very bad direction. Marxist and uptight, feminism is bad our society. And I say that as a woman.

  530. Well done! Those bad bad girls want to pull the poor poor boy into the water! Since I saw this painting I was so afraid of women with breasts that I could not sleep. This was an underestimated aspect of art until your wise decision.

  531. Alan Williams-Key says:

    You are quite right to remove this painting.

    It is obvious that the nymphs had not been warned that this would be a male-only pond gathering and that their presence was only to display their beauty. If only the young man had made a contribution to charity…

  532. Ryan Lewis McKindle says:

    Hylas and the Nymphs was the only reason I ever went in Manchester Gallery. If I was passing though the city I’d drop in to see it. Quite possibly my favourite painting. How awful that it’s not there anymore.
    (Gay man, art enthusiast).

  533. Jane says:

    I think this decision is a disgrace. If it starts here, where does it end? Who will judge what is morally acceptable? And on what grounds? This is pure censorship cloaked in a prudish ideology. Why not put the picture back up and invite comments on its content rather than imposing your views on the museum-going public?

  534. Kiyan Farmand says:

    We are truly experiencing a shift in western society. The role of the woman is being rewritten and that’s a good thing. Empowerment of women in all fields is first and foremost a good thing.

    Nevertheless, I don’t think we need to be saved from ourselves. We westerners, praising our culture and traditions shaped by the Enlightenment, often condemn the the demonisation of sexuality and the fear of the vital powers of the female body in Islamic cultures. If we now turn away from our anthropocentric world view and return to a puritan path, what would make us any different?

  535. Sarah H says:

    Art is about educating those around today, and by trying to decide what should be displayed based on puritanical and closed-minded ideologies, you begin to walk a very slippery slope.

  536. James Murray says:

    Here’s what you’re really doing: you’re holding a beloved piece of art hostage so that people will listen to your political ideas. Rehang the painting and resign your position.

  537. Thomas G. says:

    Works of the past have to be put in context. This is as true for Waterhouse’s Nymphs as it is for the large number of paintings since the Renaissance inspired by classical mythology, especially by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. And it is evident that we do not have today the same views on our society as our predecessors did. Therefore, every epoch has the right (and the duty) to take a critical look on its way of handling the past. And this can of course result in a re-evaluation of what was once considered a masterwork. And as museums offer limited space (to my greatest regret), such a process may result in new arrangements, paintings being relegated to the archive vaults while others come back into the light.

    As for the case in question, I do think that the way it was carried out is more akin to marketing than to art history. The past may teach us important lessons, one being that things have not always been what they are now, and the contemplation of artworks, the display of historical context and the explanation of what were the artist’s motives for painting what he did in the way he did may be one of the best occasions to learn. So, what would we gain by simply erasing what was? Or by declaring a painter one of Weinstein’s forefathers? This seems to me like a violation of the one element that, in science, should never be neglected – context!

    One may of course come to think that Waterhouses’s Nymphs are rather bad taste and an antiquated way to present women, it is nevertheless one of the Victorian age’s iconic paintings that can be used to explain this important era of English and European history. Removing it seems to me the wrong approach, especially as there are numerous other examples in recent months where popular wrath culminated in claims to remove paintings, like for example Thérèse rêvant de Balthus. This is a dangerous path we should not take lightly, or we may end up by sacrificing Art on the bloody altar of political correctness.

  538. voice of peason says:

    The charitable interpretation is that this is a publicity stunt. If so, well done. You got your column inches.

    The uncharitable one is that you are really, really stupid people who have been caught up by the post-#metoo hysteria in artistic circles.

    Just take a moment and think where artistic censorship ends. People who visit the Gallery (and I’m one local who won’t be coming again until it is restored) are perfectly capable themselves of deciding whether the painting is exploitative or titillating, or indeed anything else. Are you in favour of freedom or aren’t you?

    People who want to stop men ogling women –

    1. Leftist authoritarians.
    2. Islamic fundamentalists.

    Funny that.

  539. VC says:

    People who get upset by a painting – and I mean any painting, including the most abject themes including incest, cannibalism and paedophilia – are morons who believe Magritte really created a pipe. The painting isn’t objectifying anything except your penchant for blatant censorship.

  540. Peter says:

    This is not just censorship this is one public serves employee’s political view, my question is why has she been allowed to express it in way her job is to work in the gallery not push her ideological view on every one that goes there

  541. Hugh McKinney says:

    I think the gallery has missed the point and misunderstood the ancient Greek role of nymphs.

    Nymphs are divine spirits who are creative forces in nature and semi-immortal beings.

    This defined nature of divine spirits is an overwhelmingly empowering one for women and to lure Hylas to join them enhances that power.

    It is sad that in denying the role of the classical nymph the gallery has fallen into the irony of denying them their genius loci.

  542. Christopher Green says:

    For heavens sake let’s not paint over history … it’s art of the time.

  543. Paul says:

    Genius PR.
    Questionable curation.

  544. John says:

    This seems to be an act of new-puritanism and a pitiful subordination to temporary trends. Showing nudes was for a long time only acceptable in a biblical/mythological context. To do otherwise was offensive. In these days the proper context for the display of nakedness would be some form of “protest”. To do otherwise is offensive.
    What happened to diversity? Dear Manchester Art Gallery, is a liberal approach to art suddenly more than you can handle? If so, you disqualified yourself as a gallery.

  545. Daniele da Volterra says:

    In the name of the Lord the Allmighty, burn that disgusting, sexist painting

  546. Adrian Schmit says:

    I believe moves such as this seriously harm the MeToo movement, which I support. It must not be taken over by extremists. I went to the Manchester Art Gallery some years ago to see the pre-raphaelite works and this painting in particular. I certainly will not go again until it is back on display. Are we now to deny that the human body can be beautiful? I see nothing wrong with an art display focusing on that. The gallery says this is not censorship, but of course it is. It is saying there are aspects of this picture which we question (stupidly, in my opinion) and therefore we are, at least temporarily, not allowing you to look at it. What is that if not censorship? This is a Victorian painting, for heaven’s sake – are we becoming more Victorian than the Victorians? Those who made this decision are, in my view, unfit to run a public gallery.

  547. Glenn says:

    Get the painting back up, you are making the Gallery and Manchester a laughing stock. You have no right whatsover to impose this crazy censorship.

  548. […] A blog on the gallery website says: “Let’s challenge this Victorian fantasy!” […]

  549. Chris says:

    What a travesty! Many times have I visited the Manchester Art Gallery and admired its excellent collection. The Pre-Raphaelite section is extraordinary and deserves respect – whether you appreciate or esteem the genre or not. As to the subject matter of Hylas and the Nymphs…if you know the Greek myth then you will know that the nymphs, far from being victims and vulnerable young women, it is Hylas that is lured by them. Encouraging artistic debate is admirable, but don’t demean it by introducing misguided ‘socially correct’ focus. I agree with several of the other comments about the removal of this painting, in that they are part of our social history and deserve to be discussed in both their artistic merit and social references both of their time and now.

  550. P says:

    We had an Athena print of it hanging in our family home.! The family loved it.
    I took it when I moved into my first flat
    It’s beautiful. Some people only look at it for its beauty. It here, we can’t hide it, so show it.

  551. Jane Molloy says:

    I look at this painting everyday, it hangs on my stairs with a family photo of bathers in a similar pose. Only male chests, but neither offends me or my visitors. Are we going to take down Botticelli, Rubens, Michelangelo, Gwen John, Titian, Manet……all those greek and roman statues, i could go on, in fact most of western and, and lets not forget all those Japanese woodblock prints. In the words of Charlie Brown, ‘good grief’

  552. Dan McLaughlin says:

    Your (hopefully) publicity stunt/modern art provocation has certainly made a lot of people cross so I suppose its going well if that was what you intended. So I’ll join in with a ‘put back the painting now!’ What do you plan next? Remove all the pictures with female nudes or all pictures with nudes of any kind? Alternatively you could choose an issue of modern attitudes every week and pick a painting to take down to illustrate it and see what happens. Another idea would be to take down a painting at random each week, replace it with a post it note, and then make up the justification preferably with lots of references to contemporary issues.You will be able to have lots of fun – kind of a reverse art gallery where gradually there are more post it notes than pictures!

  553. Phil says:

    An other way of looking at this is that you obviously feel the painting’s value is no longer appropriate due to the subject matter. If that is the case then as the painting is now devalued in your organisations’ eyes, I trust you will be contacting your insurance company to notify them of this.

  554. Arik Elman says:

    This IS censorship, and you are insane.

  555. Anthony James says:

    I salute you removing the painting to promote the debate. You have to wonder in what way the Victorian morale tale of the painting is not still relevant, or the scene is now too vivid for the modern internet-enabled sexuality. It seems to me that removing this content from art and public life would risk the type of dichotomy for which the Victorians themselves were notorious. I look forward to visiting the gallery and seeing the painting myself sometime soon.

  556. Qi Tai says:

    I think the best solution is to give the painting to a London or Paris museum where people are not shocked by nudity. Hylas was the gay lover of Hercules. Will gay art be removed as well? Brave new world.

  557. Matt McFadden says:

    A completely vapid and moronic gesture. Manchester Art Gallery should be ashamed of themselves for doing this, which will be seen at best as a cheap publicity exercise at the cost of it’s patrons.
    Politics and art are so intertwined as to be almost inseparable, but I don’t think it should be the Gallery’s position to espouse the personal views of it’s curator and arguably racist artist allies.

  558. Christian R says:

    Now its official, you are no visit worth. The stupidity of feminists, me too shouters and gendering mainstream don t know any boarders. I am happy to grow up with a smart and modern mom, you are not modern women, you are modern idiots

  559. Mandy says:

    This is a beautiful painting and you have no right to impose your embarrassing, socially-corrosive, navel-gazing, patronising curatorial views on a public who are paying for the Gallery via the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council and MCC funding. Leave your dabbling with re-contexualisation in the classroom, pack away your liberal censoriousness and get that thing of beauty back on the wall where it belongs.

  560. Richard Palmer says:

    Between the 19th July 1937 and the 30th November 1937, in Munich in the Institute of Archaeology in the Hofgarten, the local Nazi Party held an exhibition called Die Ausstellung “Entartete Kunst”; roughly translated as The Degenerate Art Exhibition

    I am struggling to understand the differences in motivation behind this decision by the gallery and those of Adolf Ziegler, the organiser of the event in Munich. The similarity is in the crushing of artistic expression, of past and present, in order to advance an ideological utopia. In the case of Ziegler, an aryan, jew free National Socialist State and the director of the gallery, a fully compliant, LGBTetc. (I lose count) post modern and culturally marxist puritanical tyranny.

    Whilst you may take offence to the analogy, there are ample examples from history, whenever people have succumbed to an ideological utopian solution to the highly complex issues of society, the control of thought, speech, culture and art are seen as necessary to lead society to the utopia.
    We saw this with the Jacobins in Paris in 1793, we saw this throughout the Soviet Union from 1920 through to 1990, with murderous and tragic results – a regime every bit as violent and brutal as the Nazi dictatorship. We saw this in Mao’s cultural revolution, and the famine that was the consequence, a famine which killed, my modern estimates, 100 million. We saw it in the killing fields of Cambodia and we saw it in the prisons and torture chambers of the DDR.

    But you don’t have to go back into history to see the consequences of Cultural Marxism, you can see it in North Korea.

    You would have thought that we would have learned the dangers of imposing ideological utopianism on societies. You may say that the above examples are a bit extreme, but study Solszenitskyn, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche and you will learn that the slippery slope to the KZ and Gulag starts when intolerance of ‘degenerate’ art, or art that is ‘contra to the zeitgeist of the moment’ is banished as being politically unacceptable. This is all this is, the political tarring and feathering of art that is offensive and ‘sending the wrong message’ to the proletariat who cannot be trusted with such material. Those demanding the censorship of such see themselves as leading the ignorant out of darkness, away from hate and the cardinal sin (in this case the image of the female form being linked to sexual violence) never mind the classical tradition of the romantic art period that inspired it.
    What’s next, the smashing of Rodin’s Kiss? Or perhaps burning Botticelli’s Venus di Milo?

    This is a very dangerous decision and the only reason I can see for the Director to make this decision is to gain publicity for the galley. What they don’t understand is that in doing this they run the very real risk, in an age where peddling ideological utopias has once again become fashionable (despite their bloody track record), of actually endorsing the intolerance of those demanding the censorship of art.

    stop it.

    • Neil says:

      At least the Nazis exhibited the “degenerate art”, albeit for a short time, and only with the intent of showing how “dreadful” it was. Simply removing this painting so that no-one can see it and form their own opinion seems far worse.

  561. Deborah Cloutman says:

    Deb C
    Clare where can I see this painting now, are you going to put it back? In my opinion this is censorship. The painting does not make me feel uncomfortable. Put it back.

  562. Mrs. Gannaway,
    In the German press you can learn that your gallery has hung the painting “Hylas and the Nymphs” to discuss in a supposed art action on the representation of naked women in the art.
    One wonders if you and your colleagues are still ticking properly. Art is and remains art and today, thank God, stands under the torch of freedom.

    There are museum curators, who are psychologically naked, without their childlike innocent nakedness to fear a misinterpretation as shameless.

    Please be examined for your mental state and hang this mail on the place of the suspended image.

    With regards

  563. Paul Arrowsmith says:

    As a teenager, 40 years ago, I thought the pre-Raphaelites were a revelation, and this painting made a big impression.

    Now, four decades later, my taste has moved on. I don’t much care for the pre-Raphaelites – but I can still see – or I could if you still hung this painting – that it is a wonderful example of its kind.

    Every viewer will have their own response to any painting. It’s tosh to say that’s a binary experience. To my eyes, the male figure is just as much an idealised physical beauty as the female figures.

    In attempting to impose a contemporary (partial) view of gender politics onto a painting from the 19th century fails to understand the times in which it was painted or the antique times to which it alludes. But what else would expect from a curator of contemporary art?

    Is this a good painting of its kind? Does it warrant space in a gallery? Does it dictate a response on the viewer? Do I want it back?

    YES. YES. NO. YES.

  564. Christopher Coppock says:

    I have to say guys I am really shocked by the levels of abuse and vitriol being directed towards Clare Garraway and the Manchester Art Gallery over what is, in the bigger scheme of things, a storm in a teacup.

    I can fully understand why some people feel aggrieved that this work of art has been removed from the gallery walls, albeit TEMPORARILY. And I also know as someone who has worked in contemporary visual art for over 40 years that sometimes these kind of conceptual gestures can misread the public mood, which is clearly the case here.

    But come on. To compare this transient, perhaps misguided, act with book-burning and the worst excesses of totalitarianism completely corrupts this debate (and the reality of what has happened, the temporary removal of a picture, however beloved, from a gallery wall).

    But perhaps this kind of knee jerk elision that is evident in so many of the posts, talks more about the kind of society we now live in, where intemperate opinions can be expressed at will with little concern for the collective aggression, divisiveness and intolerance that is generated in the process.

    When I first heard about this ‘controversy’ I was slightly irritated by what I felt was the curator’s naivety and lack of awareness about the repercussions that such an act could potentially unleash. Having now trawled through, what I believe to be, so many deeply reactionary and disproportionate comments that have framed this online debate, my empathy now sits firmly with Clare Garraway and the Manchester Art Gallery.

    And the truth is, the artist and curator wanted this gesture to instigate a debate — frightening though it has turned out to be — which it has done in spades. In this respect the conceptual ‘artwork’ has achieved it’s aims, whatever anyone may think of its values or worth. I just think it will be very sad if Clare Gannaway, who I imagine entered into this cauldron in good faith, was to become personally damaged in the process. We are all human after all.

    • Peter Stocks says:

      You are completely wrong. Clare Gannaway deserves all of the vitriol expressed in these comments for a despicable act of censorship, wrapped up in cultural Marxist claptrap.

  565. Thomas says:

    Hi! If you no longer want to show that beautiful painting I would like to offer to buy it at a realistic market price. Please get backt to me. I leave you my email. I am serious, I love that painting and would like to show it in Switzerland. Thank you.

  566. Athena Kelly says:

    Great effort by the gallery. I hope it really opens up a dialogue especially by women about the female image and how it is portrayed. How do women see themselves through these images? How do these images affect young minds? Do we accept the way the other sex chooses to portray us or do we want control of our image? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves today and moving forward. Great move Manchester Art gallery. Hope to see more of this from you.

  567. Holl says:

    Since not a lot of people are going to come out with this opinion, I’m in favour. You’d think the town where its paintings of passive women had been slashed by campaigners for the female right to vote wouldn’t be whining about “political correctness” and “censorship” by having a painting taken down and accompanied with a little note explaining what is happening. In fact, after reading these people who are so concerned about censorship I’m in favour of burning the painting.

    The people posting here are feeling the outrage of having the wallpaper of their worldview questioned even slightly. You’re claiming you feel no entitlement to women yet feel entitlement to seeing the Nymphs’s bodies whenever necessary. And yet, female artists still make nearly no money, on the whole, and will never be placed in the great Westen artistic canon where men choked out all female expression.

    Those who say we should hear all speech are not the people who have to deal with the consequences of the speech.

  568. Gemma Fieldsroy says:

    I am appalled by the criticism that is thrown into the face of the curators on social media.

    To say that is is censorship to remove a patently offensive painting showcasing young, nude females offering their body in a questionable manner and entirely without artistic merit, from public view is akin to accusing curators of censorship for not showing fascist propaganda artworks.

    Whether Waterhouse intended to be misogynist or not is not relevant to the discussion, although I am sure he was. His paintings are misogynist and further, nourish and normalize despicable views of the female body as an object. The same is true for many of the other paintings MAG chooses to display alongside the Waterhouse in question. I have been at odds with most museums’ arrogant disregard for gender equality for a while now. It is frustrating to see how progress trickles down very slowly into the world of public museums and galleries.

    While it is laudable that MSG has finally woken up and garnered the courage to remove the Waterhouse travesty, it is disappointing that none of the other offending paintings were removed, as they should have been.

    The year is 2018 and we will no longer put up with such offensive dribble, if it is (supposedly) art or not. Women should be able to decide what kind of pictures of other women they want to be exposed to, not old white men.

    I urge the resonsible curators not to be taken aback by the backlash they’re seeing on social media. Obviously people want to hang onto idols of their perverted view of gender dynamics. Such is the nature of discrimination. Fortunately, it is not up to them to decide what is being shown in museums and I hope more institutions will follow in your footsteps.

    • Paul Mangan says:

      did you mean drivel when you wrote this ‘dribble’? OR do you really mean that all portrayals of nudity should be removed? Is that actually what this censorship is about? I think you gave the game away.

  569. Helena says:

    I consider this to be a regressive move and a return to the repressive censorship of the Victorian era. Is this where we have come to in the 21st century? Full circle.

  570. I’m really sad that people’s discussion on this has been utterly moronic. Thanks for trying to start an interesting conversation on art and culture. It has at least shown the general public this one painting, and brought attention to your gallery.

  571. Georgina says:

    These two posts hit the nail on the head.

    ‘Get the painting back up, you are making the Gallery and Manchester a laughing stock. You have no right whatsover to impose this crazy censorship.’

    ‘So it has come to this. The act of censoring a piece of art is now considered an act of artistic expression. A generation which has lost the ability to create anything of beauty must redefine the destruction of the past as art. What’s next ? The burning of a book will be considered literature?’

    This is lunacy. I believe that the decision to take down the painting has nothing to do with promoting discussion, it is do with fear, fear of not adhering to the ridiculous ‘correctness’ of today.
    Deleting history to fit in with the minority’s ideal. Galleries and museums, places of education for all ages, have no place in dictating this.

  572. Mimi Westbrook-Grubb says:

    How utterly ridiculous! We have a copy of this beautiful painting hanging in our dining room, alongside copies of other treasured Pre-Raphaelite works. Many friends and visitors of all ages/sexual denominations have admired it, including those who were not familiar with the genre. No-one has ever expressed horror at its subject matter. Nor have they taken offence at the 8′ mirror topped by two golden, reclining female nudes in Pre-Raphaelite manner that graces our living room!
    The only horror I feel, is that I and many others will now be unable to view the original of this stunning work of art at Manchester. All because of some person’s personal preference. I, for one, shall be boycotting the museum. If it is not the intention to return it to display, I agree it should either be donated to a museum that will appreciate it or else auctioned so that a collector can have the opportunity to purchase a work they love – Lord Lloyd Webber springs to mind.
    Anyway, popping out now to buy some fabric to shroud the legs of my piano, lest some snowflake should be offended by their overt nakedness!

  573. Christopher Robinson says:

    It is a great painting. There is so much rubbish. It is from a Greek Myth and reflects not the Victorians or our society today it reflects a myth beautifully painted. I will not be visiting the Gallery until this sort of censorship stops.

  574. Aba Aldrete says:

    Too much safe funding? Don’t care what ordinary people want? Tamara Rojo (the much praised Artistic Director of the ENB) was guest editor of the Today Prog. (Radio 4) recently and said that too much subsidy and an organisation can become self indulgent and stop caring what people might like to see. Is that the problem here? Anyway, please put the painting back and don’t hang in a corner above a large cupboard next time please as we can’t see it properly (or was that the point?).

  575. Oscar Dowson says:

    “Our civilization cannot afford to let the censor-moron loose. The censor-moron does not really hate anything but the living and growing consciousness. It is our developing and extending consciousness that he threatens — and our consciousness in its newest, most sensitive activity, its vital growth. To arrest or circumscribe the vital consciousness is to produce morons, and nothing but a moron would do it.” – DH Lawrence

  576. Simon Poë says:

    ‘Victorian’ is not a term of abuse. ‘The Pursuit of Beauty’ is a goodish description of the aims and objectives of Aesthetic Post-Pre-Raphaelite painters, including Waterhouse. Manchester has a great historic collection and a responsibility to display it. This was a misconceived stunt. Also, if it was not about censorship, I don’t see why you have removed the postcards from sale. Reinstate the painting and stop being so silly.

  577. Oscar Dowson says:

    In a dictatorship, censorship is a given and if anyone complains they get a knock on the door from the secret police and disappear. In a democracy, lacking secret police, censorship has and must always wear a mask of benevolence. It isn’t censorship, it’s protection from harm. It’s respecting sensitivities. It’s keeping children safe. It’s provoking debate. The end result is the same in both cases. They – with a capital T – are telling Us – with a capital U – what we can and cannot see, and what we are meant to think about it. My consolation is that this painting with long outlive this fatuous artistic statement/publicity stunt.