Hylas and the Nymphs – BBQ Stopper

February 3, 2018 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, Ulalume | 8 Comments |

The Manchester Art Gallery has recently removed the superb John William Waterhouse painting, Hylas and the Nymphs (1896) from display.  Depicting a moment from the tale of Jason and the Argonauts, when Hylas, sent to fetch water for the crew, stared into a pool of limpid water and beheld a gathering of lovely nymphs, never to be seen again, its great fusion of neo-classical romanticism is deemed inappropriate for its pandering to “Victorian fantasy” and the canvas requires extensive indoctrination and tuition before it can ever return, hopefully “contextualised quite differently.”

Ah yes, let us by all means mock the Victorians, from the cheap seats of 2018.

The curator hopes to start “a conversation” by removing the offending work.  Okay, we’ll play:

To the Manchester Art Gallery:

Dear Sirs and Mesdames,

Clearly, with respect, you are little more than tiny-minded, life-hating, arrogant, sanctimonious, sub-human, ignoble Phillistines, fit only for extermination.  You are not fit to shine Waterhouse’s shoes, let alone determine that the people of Manchester, and beyond, need your tender protection from the dangers of viewing him.  To our mind’s eye, you resemble the dullard crew of Odysseus aboard their vessel in the heavy swell of the dark-eyed Amphitrite, lashed to masts and senses bound against that rarest of the senses, common sense. [see below]

Yours in sorrow, disbelief and contempt,

The Varnished Culture.”

No, wait, scratch that – too harsh.  I’m sure the gallery’s curator taking the lead on this, Ms Gannaway, is none of the above, And she may, we guess, have a contemporary point to make.

So, let’s just call her Very Silly.


  1. Reply

    Chris Hall

    February 7, 2018

    Absurd! One of my favorite paintings EVER! A print of this hung on my wall for years.

  2. Reply

    S J H

    February 7, 2018

    Madness. We have to be ‘educated’ by the Keepers of Political Correctness before we can be permitted to look at artworks, in case we think the ‘wrong things’ about them? ‘ Nanny State’ doesn’t begin to describe it,

  3. Reply

    Paul Green

    February 13, 2018

    I’d first like conversation and consultation before art is censored by an over zealous curator. What’s next book burning, thankfully in the UK we don’t have rallies, yet.

  4. Reply

    T J Alexander

    February 13, 2018

    Not remotely absurd. We do need to have a conversation about art.

  5. Reply


    February 13, 2018

    Agreed, but does the conversation have to be overshadowed by censorship? Why not leave the Waterhouse on the wall and then whatever 'context' you want to choose will at least be informed.

  6. Reply

    Andrew Cooper

    February 13, 2018

    It was taken down as an experiment to promote debate, that was all
    And rather nicely it did.

  7. Reply

    Corey Trinkler

    February 13, 2018

    Sooo from my understanding..they are taking it down for censorship?!?
    It's a beautiful painting in my opinion. Other than the women's tatahs, which I'm pretty sure most adults have seen, some even enjoy I imagine!! ? what am I missing? Why is this so risqué? If this offends anyone please let me know and I will remove. I'm just trying to figure out why an art museum wouldn't allow this to hang on the wall.

  8. Reply

    Smug of Glebe

    February 13, 2018

    As they say, "Political correctness is tyranny with a Happy Face."

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