September Morn and the Dancing Girls?

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The French painter Paul Chabas completed “September Morn” in early 1912. The painting shows a young woman demurely bathing nude by the edge of Lake Annecy in Haute-Savoie, France. When Chabas showed it that year at the Paris Salon, it won a gold medal of honor. Critics praised it. But when copies of the painting made their way to America, it provoked a bitter controversy there about nudity, art, and public morality.

 

Thanks to this controversy, September Morn became one of the most famous and popular paintings of the twentieth century. It sold millions of copies and was reproduced on a wide variety of merchandise including umbrellas, suspenders, postcards, candy boxes, cane heads, and watch fobs. They even made a play!

Thanks to the controversy surrounding it, the September Morn image became an iconic part of American popular culture during the early twentieth century. Some put the sales of the painting at over seven million copies. But since the vast majority of these copies were illegally pirated, Chabas never saw much profit from the painting’s popularity, though it did make him famous. He once remarked, “Nobody has been thoughtful enough to send me even a box of cigars.”

September Morn went on to feature in many different ways in popular culture:

In 1913 Stanley Murphy penned a popular song: “September Morn (I’d Like to Meet Her).”

n 1913 Florenz Ziegfeld (of Ziegfeld’s Follies) presented onstage a recreation of September Morn starring Ann Pennington, a dancer later known for her dimpled knees. The New York Sun noted that “unfortunately this September Morn wore silk tights which bagged at the knees a bit and wrinkled in the wrong place.”

 

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In 1914 a popular musical stage production of September Morn was produced and toured throughout the United States. It also toured through Lanark County and the night it played at the Carleton Place Town Hall it was sold out because 20 young chorus girls were dancing their hearts out.

One newspaper gave this description of the play: “The play, of course, gets its name from the painting of the same name which stirred up comment from coast to coast. The story of the piece has to do with the aspirations of one Rudolph Plastic, owner of an art studio, who claims to have been the painter. Of course, Rudolph does not even know how to paint a picket fence.

The model of “September Morn” is laid claim to by an actress who has instructed her press agent to circulate the rumor that she is the original. The ludicrous moments when the two impersonators are dodging each other and when a chesty old army officer who has fallen in love with the actress, discovers that she is a good friend of his wife’s, creates enough laughter and plot for six musical plays. The scenery is prettily designed and painted and the costuming introduces chorus girls in their latest Parisian costumes.”

 

 

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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