Page last updated at 11:45 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 12:45 UK

Banned 'brazen' nude back on show

The image of a nude smoking caused controversy in Newport when it went on display in 1947.

An oil painting of a nude woman has gone on show more than 60 years after it caused a stir for being "brazen".

The piece by Sir Gerald Kelly was brought by Newport's Museum and Art Gallery, south Wales in 1947 and 20,000 people queued up to view it.

But a churchman complained saying it was more suitable for a public house.

It is part on an exhibition of paintings in the museum's collection which have not been seen together by the public for a long time.

Sir Gerald's oil painting has drawn more comments about the nude model smoking, with one visitor comparing her to "Fag Ash Lil".

Entitled D.D after the initials of the model in the painting, it was purchased by the gallery for 250 after it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1947.

The artist had painted the royal family of the day and later became president of the Royal Academy.

Today D.D is estimated to be worth around 30,000 and is part of the council's touring collection.

Its latest display in Newport has revived interest in the stir the oil painting caused there more than 60 years ago.

It is an affront to the dignity of womanhood and is more suited to a public house than an art gallery
Dorian Herbert, a bishop of the Ancient British Church in 1947

Robin Hawkins, the Newport gallery's curator of art and design, said contrary to earlier reports, the painting had been displayed since 1947 and has been shown at Tredegar House for the last 18 months.

But there was no repeat of its earlier controversy.

"World War II had just ended when the picture first went on display in Newport," he said.

"It caused quite a controversy and that increased the interest - thousands came to see it."

Newspapers at the time reported that Dorian Herbert, who was the bishop of Caerleon for the small independent group, the Ancient British Church, went to see the picture after his sister had seen girls sniggering at it.

He described it as "brazen, abandoned and vulgar" and added "it is an affront to the dignity of womanhood and is more suited to a public house than an art gallery".

Mr Hawkins added: "We would consider it none of those things these days but she does come across as a confident young woman of her time.

A visitor looking at D.D by Sir Gerald Kelly
Back on display - but the figure smoking a cigarette is drawing contemporary comment

"The way she looks out from the canvas and the pose is a very bold one all created a lot of fuss and attention back in 1947."

Mark Soady, minor canon at St Woolas Cathedral in Newport said he had no issue with the painting appearing in the art gallery.

"I think at the time people were much more sensitive about these things," he added.

"1947 is 60 years ago. Now we are much more understanding of these things. There are many more important issues in the world to get concerned and worried about."

One visitor Elizabeth Ayres, 38, an office worker, said: "She's a bit of a Fag Ash Lil but I can't imagine why the painting would be banned.

"Maybe it's because of the way she is staring - women in those days weren't allowed to be that brassy."

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