16th century nude portrait too racy for London's Underground

A 16th century nude has proved too racy for London's Underground train system, with officials banning an ad featuring a painting of Venus for fear it could cause offense.

A 16th century nude has proved too risqué for London's Underground train system, with officials banning an ad featuring a painting of the Roman goddess Venus for fear it could cause offence.

London Underground officials have rejected an advertisement featuring the painting Venus by German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, the subject of an upcoming exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts. Officials said it might cause offence. ((Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images))

London's Royal Academy of Arts chose the painting Venus to advertise its upcoming exhibition on 16th century German painter and printmaker Lucas Cranach the Elder.

However, a promotional poster for the show destined for the city's subway system was rejected by London transport officials.

"Millions of people travel on the London Underground each day, and they have no choice but to view whatever adverts are posted there," a spokesman said.

"We have to take into account the full range of travellers and endeavour not to cause offence in the adverts we display."

Politician calls subway ban 'bonkers'

According to the London Underground, the poster breached its guidelines against ads that depict individuals "in a sexual manner or display nude or semi-nude figures in an overly sexual context."

A Royal Academy spokesman expressed disappointment with the decision and said that "if we thought [the painting] was offensive, we wouldn't have put it forward."

However, the gallery will likely have to pick a new image if transport officials do not reconsider their decision, he added.

The ban also drew fire from British politician John Whittingdale, who called the ban "bonkers," according to the BBC.

Whittingdale, chair of the U.K. House of Commons select committee on culture, media and sport, also urged Underground officials to "think again" in regards to the poster.

The Royal Academy's exhibit opens March 8 for a three-month run.