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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK


Education

Washington painting censored for school book

Washington Crossing the Delaware (the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

A 19th-century painting of George Washington has been censored in a school text book - in case a fob watch on his thigh was mistaken for the president exposing himself.

Staff in a school district in Georgia have spent two weeks covering up the offending fob watch in Emanuel Leutze's painting 'Washington Crossing the Delaware' which had been reproduced in over 2,000 copies of the history text book, United States in Modern Times.

The fob watch has two small ruby-coloured orbs that in the original work, painted in 1851, hang down onto the thigh of the president.

The decision to hand-paint out the watch - which it was feared might be mistaken for the president's genitalia - was taken by an education authority concerned that it would lead to sniggering and giggling among schoolchildren.

Airbrushing online?

The superintendent of Muscogee County school district, Guy Sims, ordered the changes - made using a paint that matched the colour of the president's trousers - because he feared how older pupils would react to the original version of the painting.

But such sensitivities do not appear to be limited to provincial school districts. The painting, which hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is used as an example in the museum's online education section.

But in the version shown in the museum's internet site, reproduced above, the two orbs of the fob watch appear to be missing. The museum was not able to confirm or deny that the digital image had been censored, but when compared to the orginal, the detail of the fobwatch appears to be absent.



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