“What is art in Latin countries is obscenity in the Nordic north”

JD had a bit more Time than I did and kindly sent me an article from 1930 which turns the tables on the filthy Swedes discussed this morning. It seems that towards the end of Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship the Spanish postal service issued a stamp of Goya’s unshaven maja desnuda. Time writes:

The stamps (29,800) were speedily sold. Letters from the facetious, protests from puritans flooded the Spanish Postoffice, the International Postal Union. Plaints ranged from statements that what is art in Latin countries is obscenity in the Nordic north, to threats of official proceedings against the Spanish Government for sending obscene matter through the mails. To the postal union wrote a Swiss zealot:

“An indecent picture is bad enough . . . but a postage stamp, whose back side must be licked! . . . Millions of innocent children collect stamps.”

In Manhattan that expert in pornography, John Saxton Sumner of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, admitted sadly that he could do nothing about a stamp issued by the Spanish Government.

Not quite true: the US apparently barred and returned any mail bearing the stamps. But we should not draw extreme conclusions from the behaviour of either government. The St. Petersburg times, Florida, sounds a cautionary note in 1932 re the legalisation of nude beaches in among other places San Sebastián:

Bathing costumes and customs have a geography of their own. In that respect they are like morals. When it comes to the wearing of bathing suits the most liberal in other things are sometimes the most puritanical, and vice versa.

Licking a naked woman’s behind can be a perfectly innocent activity in a well-ordered society.

Similar posts


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *