Facebook backtracks after censoring nude Caravaggio painting

Social media giant Facebook has backtracked on a decision to censor a painting by Italian artist Caravaggio, on the grounds that the nudity violated the site's rules.

Facebook backtracks after censoring nude Caravaggio painting
Amor Vincit Omnia depicts a naked Cupid. Image: Public Domain/WikiCommons

Milan-based art promoter Hamilton Moura Filho had posted an image of the artwork, Amor Vincit Omnia (Love Conquers All), along with a comment about the painting's history.

But his post was swiftly removed by Facebook, with the social network notifying Filho that it had violated the site's “Community Standards” due to the nudity of the painting's subject, Cupid. 

Filho's account was also blocked for several hours.

The offending painting shows a boyish Cupid leaning against a table and smiling, while surrounded by objects representing human achievements. Painted in 1602, it is noted among art historians for its realism – rather than being idealized, the Cupid figure has crooked teeth – but apparently it was just too realistic for Facebook's liking.

The art enthusiast labelled the incident “an outrage against history and culture” and called on other leading figures in the art world to support him in challenging Facebook's decision.

“This is a very important work in art history, and I want to take legal action to protest this censorship,” Filho told La Repubblica on Monday evening.

Legal action is likely to be unnecessary however; Filho later said that Facebook had apologized for blocking his page and reinstated his account. 

“My Facebook is a place to share art and culture. Art is a medicine against ignorance,” he said, thanking numerous prominent art historians and museum directors for their support.

Facebook's guidelines over nudity have created controversy before. Two months ago, Facebook reversed its decision to censor an iconic photograph from the Vietnam War, which shows a young naked girl running from a Napalm bombing.

Norwegian author and journalist had complained of censorship after his post containing the photo was deleted, prompting a national outcry as leading newspaper editors and even Norway's Prime Minister called on Facebook to rethink the decision.

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The new guide to Florence’s Uffizi Galleries – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Florence's world-famous galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

The new guide to Florence's Uffizi Galleries - showing only the nudes
Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" is the most famous work included in a controversial new guide to the Uffizi Galleries. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The online guide to the gallieries is produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

Part of the site’s Classic Nudes series of ‘erotic’ guides to some of the world’s most renowned museums, the guide for the Uffizi lists 21 artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and the location of each piece within the galleries.

“The Uffizi Gallery is located in the birthplace of the Renaissance: Florence, Italy. So it’s no wonder it has such a large collection of artwork from the era. But what you may find surprising is the sheer volume and variety of naked bodies rendered in paint, bronze and marble in this marvelous museum,” writes Pornhub.

Among the works featured are Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (1485) and the Roman statue of the Knidian Aphrodite, dating from the 1st Century.

The guide also includes the Venus of Urbino by Titian (1538), which it calls “kinky”, and Painting and Poetry by Francesco Furini (1626), which is described as featuring “two ridiculously hot babes who just so happen to be making out”.

Titian’s “Venus of Urbino”. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Bosses at the Uffizi were not amused at the gallery’s inclusion in Pornhub’s series and have threatened to sue.

Meanwhile in Paris, the Louvre’s management has said only that it is ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay remained silent on the subject.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

The Uffizi does, however, provide a great day out for all the family and contains a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present it is operating with reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.