New in the Hoaxipedia: Two articles about paintings

Elliot's newest contribution in the Hoaxipedia is an entry about the career of the art forger Elmer de Hory.

And I also posted an article about something from the world of art: September Morn by Paul Chabas.

September Morn shows a young naked girl bathing at the edge of a lake. In the early twentieth century it provoked a huge controversy in America about whether nudity should be allowed in public art. The controversy helped make September Morn one of the most famous (and popular) paintings in the world.

The interesting part of the story is that publicist Harry Reichenbach later claimed to have started the whole controversy by staging a phony protest... pretending to be outraged in order to attract the notice of the censors, but in reality just trying to drum up publicity so as to sell more copies of the painting.

I have my doubts about Reichenbach's story, especially since he only started taking credit for the September Morn controversy years after it happened.


Posted on Thu Sep 06, 2007


Hm, I've never heard that Reichenbach only started taking credit for the September Morn hoax years after it happened.

I've read his autobiography, Phantom Fame (a pretty hard book to find these days. I finally managed to find a copy of it after years of looking.) and he certainly tells the story in it and takes credit for the fame of September Morn.

Where did you hear or read that Reichenbach possibly made up the story after the fact, Alex?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Sep 06, 2007  at  02:58 AM
I didn't hear or read anywhere that Reichenbach may have made up the story. It's just something I started to suspect on my own after looking at newspapers accounts of the event from 1913, and then reading Reichenbach's version of the event written some 20 years later.

I can't understand why he would even have been working for an art dealer in 1913, as he claimed.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Thu Sep 06, 2007  at  09:13 AM
Nice painting regardless... ...
Posted by oppiejoe  in  Michigan - USA  on  Thu Sep 06, 2007  at  11:23 AM
Those who made money out of the painting, September Morn, were not the only people who benefitted from Anthony Comstock's attempts to stamp out obscenity. Among the more famous were birth control advocate Margaret Sanger; Bernarr Macfadden who was both one of the first tabloid publishers and a promoter of what we would today call calisthenics; George Bernard Shaw who coined the word 'comstockery' in reaction to Comstock's denunciation of his plays; Victoria Woodhull who became the first Woman candidate for President of the United States and many others. A good overview of his career can be found here.
Posted by Phred22  on  Thu Sep 06, 2007  at  01:59 PM
Alex, Reichenbach says in his autobiography that he arrived in NYC with little money. He opened an office, advertising his services as a publicist and got no response.

He says he was broke and walking past the art store in Brooklyn when he spotted reproductions of September Morn in the window on sale for ten cents each, if I remember correctly. He walked in, introduced himself and asked if the proprietor would pay him to help him sell the many copies of the painting he had on hand.

Obviously, the store owner said "yes," Reichenbach made his famous call to Constock and the rest is (allegedly) history.

I'm doing this from memory but I'm sure it's essentially what Reichenbach says in Phantom Fame.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Thu Sep 06, 2007  at  08:28 PM
I find all of the information about September Morn and artist Paul Chabas very interesting. I recently inherited two original steel etchings by Paul Chabas. One is September Morn, and the other is three girls frolicking naked in a lake. They are originals, signed and dated by Paul Chabas and in perfect condition, as they are framed in glass. I have been wondering if they could be of any value, as I was told that the original September Morn painting is presently at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dana Vigilante
Posted by Dana Vigilante  in  San Francisco  on  Tue Jul 21, 2009  at  07:24 AM
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