A nude figure of Venus dressed in nothing but a necklace and a little gauze was intended as the main poster for the Royal Academy's show on the German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder. The 16th Century artist was noted for his sensuous nudes despite and was a close friend of Martin Luther. However, the design has been thrown out as the poster, which was planned for display in scores of tube stations across London, was about to go to the printers.
"Millions of people travel on the London Underground each day and they have no choice but to view whatever adverts are posted there. We have to take account of the full range of travellers and endeavour not to cause offence in the advertising we display," a spokesman said. London Underground advertising is vetted by a firm called CBS Outdoor, and Venus seems to have fallen foul of the guideline that advertising should not "depict men, women or children in a sexual manner, or display nude or semi-nude figures in an overtly sexual context".
Six years ago the National Portrait Gallery had to create a special, more modest poster for the underground of a 17th century painting by Lely of the Countess of Oxford with one breast bared (above). However, the academy doesn't have a Venus under wraps. "We don't have a version B where she's got her clothes on," a spokeswoman said. "We're just hoping they change their minds and accept her."
Although Venus is nude it does not strike me as being particularly provocative. It certainly is not offensive to me. People will get to see plenty of adverts with far more overt sexual top, middle and bass notes than this painting