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Paul Chabas: September Morn

One day in 1913, a group of teenage boys spotted a lithograph by French painter Paul Chabas (entitled September Morn) in a shop window in Paris. They ogled the work, which depicted a nude young woman standing in a lake, for several hours. Shortly thereafter, a man named Harry Reichenbach complained to the head of the anti-vice society about the painting's effect on impressionable minds. The society promptly launched a moral crusade against the work.

Naturally the public's interest was piqued and Chabas was unable to meet demand. The lithograph, which appeared in magazines and calendars and on packs of cigarettes, eventually sold 7 million copies and was tattooed on the arms of innumerable sailors.

So who was Harry Reichenbach? A publicist -- hired by Chabas to promote his work!

[The painting, sold to a Russian and hidden during the Russian Revolution, was rediscovered in a private collection in Paris in 1935 and now resides in the Metropolitan Museum.]

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