When Paul Chabas's painting Matinée de Septembre (or September Morn, as it was normally translated) arrived in the United States for exhibition it caused a sensation. According to legend, after seeing a copy of the painting in a shop window, the infamous antivice crusader and founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, Anthony Comstock, ordered it removed ("There's too little morning and too much maid," Comstock declaimed according to one account, New York Times May 11, 1913). And so, at least according to legend, this painting ended up at the center of a debate about art and decency, aesthetics and obscenity.
In the immediate wake of the controversy, reproductions and parodies of the painting proliferated. Postcards, prints, bottle openers, pins, and pennants all appeared bearing different versions of Chabas's painting. The image was a point of reference for film (Charlie Chaplin visually alludes to it the 1917 film The Cure), political cartoons, and in popular visual culture more broadly.
While reproductions of Chabas's image continued well into the second half of the twentieth century, the importance of this painting has been largely unremarked and unexplored. Why did Chabas's painting prove such a durable image in American culture? How was it transformed, repurposed, and remixed in the years that followed?
The purpose of this archive is to begin to provide an answer to these questions by collecting the many reproductions of, and references to, Chabas's painting in American culture. For a more extended introduction to September Morn, see the History of September Morn exhibit.
Anthony Comstock published the slim pamphlet Morals Versus Art in 1887 as a defense of the raid on Knoedler's Art Gallery in New York City. An agent…
Music inspired by September Morn.
A discussion of the changing meanings of Paul Chabas's September Morn with respect to "modernist" painting by examining a few...
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Brief obituary from Life Magazine.
Short article and image from "Pictures to the Editors" section of Life magazine, describing a veteran who had a September Morn-like nude tattooed on…
A short, light-hearted blurb from the "A Look at the World's Week" section of ofLife magazine about the purchase of September Morn by the Metropolitan…