Leda and the Swan is a story from Greek Mythology in which Zeus takes the form a swan and seduces (or possibly rapes) Leda.
During the Renaissance their union was depicted in potentially erotic overtones by many artists including in paint by Leonardo, Michelangelo (a copy of which is shown below), Correggio and in marble by Bartolomeo Ammannati.
A number of the paintings, including those by the aforementioned artists, ended up in the collection of the French Royal Family. The ones by Leonardo and Michelangelo are now lost, believed destroyed by moralistic family members, whilst Correggio’s had to be repaired after Louis d’Orléans took a knife to it.
A modern day take on the subject by the photographer Derrick Santini (shown below), which had been exhibited in The Scream gallery in Mayfair:
But a Metropolitan police officer who saw the Derrick Santini image from a bus was alarmed.
He alerted his colleagues and two uniformed officers went to the gallery, which is owned by the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood’s sons, Tyrone and Jamie.
Jag Mehta, the sales director at the gallery, said she spoke to the officers and asked what the problem was.
“They said the photograph suggested we condoned bestiality, which was an arrestable offence,” she said.
“It’s crazy. Perhaps the cultural references were lost on them.”
As the exhibition was already over, they took down the artwork, which shows the animal ravaging the naked woman.
“They stood there and didn’t leave until we took the piece down.”
Ah, the stupidity of the extreme pornography law passed by the our previous, unlamented government.
Prudishness is not dead, it has just changed slightly.