Mary Whitehouse With Five Breasts


Mary Whitehouse With Five BreastsOne of Isherwood’s most controversial paintings and one which gained national publicity was “Mary Whitehouse with Five Breasts.”
But why did Isherwood decide to paint the sainted Mrs Whitehouse, who launched her own campaign to “get filth off the television.”
The reason is simple. James Lawrence Isherwood hated anything which smaked of censorship. He was a liberal minded man and thought that adults should be able to do as they liked – within legal limits.
His Mary Whitehouse portraits caused a riot…especially when the Director General of the BBC, Sir Hugh Carlton Green, bought one because, being pestered round the clock by Mary Whitehouse, he told the papers he wanted something he could throw darts at.
Good story and Isherwood wallowed in the publicity.
He had, of course, painted other daft, gimmicky portraits of celebrities he’d taken a sudden dislike to (see separate feature on gimmicks on this site). But his one of Mrs Whitehouse with five breasts was the artist at his most cruel.