London transport officials have come under fire for banning a poster showing a classic nude painting of Venus on the Underground train system, because it might offend travellers.
The poster was part of an advertising campaign for the Royal Academy for a forthcoming show on the 16th century German painter and printmaker, Lucas Cranach the Elder.
But London Underground said it breached guidelines against advertising which "depict men, women or children in a sexual manner, or display nude or semi-nude figures in an overtly sexual context."
Lawmaker John Whittingdale, chair of the House of Commons' culture, media and sport select committee, said: "The decision is absolutely bonkers. This was painted around 500 years ago.
"It's impossible to see how this classic painting could possibly cause offence. I would urge London Underground to think again. The Royal Academy should not have to come up with an alternative."
The Royal Academy, where the show is due to open next month, also lamented the decision.
"We thought this campaign through and it's very disappointing. The decision was greeted with disbelief," said a spokesman
"In this day and age it's ludicrous that a painting that's 500 years old can't be used on a poster."
A spokesman for Transport for London said: "Millions of people travel on the London Underground each day and they have no choice but to view whatever adverts are posted there.
"We have to take into account the full range of travellers and endeavour not to cause offence in the adverts we display."
The Royal Academy spokesman added: "We do have to advertise the show and so we will have to reconsider if London Underground don't change their minds. We will have to choose something else."
"If we thought it was offensive we wouldn't have put it forward."