The Scandalous Oil on Canvas: September Morn

In the late 1970s, my mother was attending an antique and classic car show in Portland, Oregon. She attended this show for many years. Not only were there cars for sale, but an antique market filled with treasures. It was there she found this large framed print (31" X 24") of September Morn and brought it home. 

Shortly after the find, my grandmother was visiting my mother and saw the "new" print taking its prominent place in the sitting room. Grandma remembered the controversy the French oil painting brought when it arrived in America and started its tour. The original painting was exhibited at various galleries on the West and East Coast before it was finally gifted to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where it now resides. The original size of the oil on canvas is 163.8 x 216.5 cm (64 1/2 x 85 1/4 in.)

                                                     The print my mother brought home.

In 1912, French artist Paul Émile Chabas (Born: 1869 in Nantes, France. Died: 1937 in Paris, France) painted on canvas a young woman demurely bathing nude by the edge of Lake Annecy in Haute-Savoie, France. When Chabas exhibited the painting that year at the Paris Salon, it won a gold medal of honor. Art critics praised it, but when copies of the painting made their way to America, it provoked a bitter controversy about nudity and public morality. 

As we have seen through time in America when a book, film, or art reaches the critics with distaste, controversy, and banning; often these detractors become the morality police with the goal to steer people away instead of allowing adults to make their own choice. What the self-appointed morality police fail to understand is their loud pulpit spewing of distaste only makes others all the more curious to find out what the hand-wrenching of so-called "immoral" literature or art is all about. 

Thanks to the American self-appointed morality police the image of September Morn sold millions of copies and was reproduced on a wide variety of souvenirs including umbrellas, sport-like pennants, suspenders, postcards, candy boxes, cane heads, and watch fobs. 

A print I discovered during my treasure hunting

Shortly after Mom's acquisition, we put the image of September Morn on our mental list of items to look for when visiting flea markets and antique shops. Through the years I picked up a few. In the later decades when Mom was minimizing her living arrangement, she parceled out a few of the souvenirs, but I scored the original print she brought home. September Morn is now taking a new prominent place, but this time on a large wall in my bedroom. 

A matted and framed tray I discovered

Wine Recommendation
: When viewing the beautiful September Morn, of course, you need to drink anything French, especially young and pink like 
La Vieille Femme, Château d'Esclans Whispering Angel, AIX, Chateau Miraval, and especially a bubbly Nicolas Feuillatte Sparkling Rosé.


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