Are there dirty pictures on your bathroom wall? Who studies home decor?
July 30, 2014 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Middle Class home decoration tropes: I've noticed that even in homes with a very staid and conservative overall "look", that in the bathroom you will frequently find wall-hangings that evoke mild titillation, or demonstrate humorous scatology, or low-brow humor. Is this a real thing, or just overrepresented in the bathrooms I've seen most often (white, Midwestern, Protestant)? Or is it not a thing at all, and just confirmation bias on my part?

The homes I've visited the most have been Midwestern, white, protestant, and working- or middle-class. For most of my early upbringing they were also rural.

The overall home decor I remember most is very conservative and aspirational: family photos, nature scenes, some cultural object designed to show that one could afford travel. Just... bric-a-brac. Its primary function seemed to be to advertise: "We are clean and respectable people who are (or should be regarded as) middle-class."

But all bets were off in the bathroom. My mother's house was chaste and straight-laced, but she had a dime-store print of Renoir's "The Bathers" in the bathroom. My grandparents were similarly conservative, but had "girls sitting on chamber pots", and a PG-13 (suggested) b&w nude, respectively. My classmates and extended family friends also had high rates of this. You'd go to use the restroom and almost always see something wildly out-of-line with the decor of the other public areas of the house.

Who writes about this? What longitudinal studies exist about the shifting tastes involved in how people decorate their homes? Also: Is this (bathroom titillation exception) real and consistent across cultures? Or is it a midwestern, white protestant thing? Or is it not even a thing to that group, and instead just a confirmation bias I've constructed because of a small sample size of kooky acquaintances? Many thanks for your time and for your impressions.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj to Society & Culture (52 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
It could be some confirmation bias, but I think people tend to relax the rules of decorum a little in the bathroom sometimes - because, let's face it, it's a room set aside for you to poop in, and is thus a bit less dignified as a result.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The upstairs bathroom in my (white, midwestern, protestant) family's house has tugboat wallpaper and a sign hanging on the door that says Poop Deck 5¢.

This is distinctly a thing I have myself noticed among my similarly-backgrounded peers' family homes. I grew up in the south, though, and down there the bathrooms tend to have bible verses, tasteful prints of pineapples, and seashells up on the walls.
posted by phunniemee at 2:23 PM on July 30, 2014

I'm from New England and while the hippies around here are more than likely to have folksy signs that say "If it's yellow let it mellow," there's usually nothing titillating in middle class bathrooms. If there's anything at all related to the function of the bathroom it tends to be a tasteful photograph of the beach or something like that.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:30 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

My grandmother, a European from Estonia originally, had pictures of nude women in her bathrooms (I remember the larger poster in the upstairs bathroom featured a young woman in a field of daisies; she had an exceedingly nice rack; the photo downstairs showed a woman in a grove of ferns with a tremendous ass).

Anyway, it was one of those things. My own parents would have nothing to do with that sort of thing back home (our own bathroom had seashells and that sort of thing) but when we went over to my grandmother's house that was perfectly normal.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:31 PM on July 30, 2014

I cannot back this up with anything other than personal experience, but I think this is a midwest thing. I grew up and traveled somewhat extensively in the midwest prior to moving to California and have not seen this kind of thing since moving to California. Or, frankly, anywhere else I have traveled.
posted by sacrifix at 2:47 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Originally from New England, we didn't do this. But living in the Midwest, was babysitting for a respectable middle class couple, went downstairs to the finished basement, and the bathroom down there had the Burt Reynolds centerfold on the wall behind the door and the famous Farrah Faucet poster on the door. I was pretty skeeved out.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:55 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh man, this is totally a Midwest thing. I can't remember any specific examples, but this was all over the place when I was growing up in MN and my parents (transplants both) were always baffled.
posted by dorque at 2:56 PM on July 30, 2014

Anecdote, in Southern Ontario I have only seen that in the homes of older people from the US (I think one were from Detroit, the other from Missouri?)
posted by saucysault at 3:17 PM on July 30, 2014

My grandparents (who were not Midwestern at all) had art prints of nudes (one was a Picasso, I think) in their bathrooms. I've seen it in other people's bathrooms as well, so it's at least sometimes a Thing.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:17 PM on July 30, 2014

Middle class Australian here and I don't think it was a particularly Midwestern US thing. My family had nudes in the bathroom when I was growing up in the 1970's. Supposed to be artistic shots of Victorian women bathing. My parents had them well into the late 1980's. They were replaced with a cat hanging off a branch with "Oh Shit" written underneath, which my mother thought was hysterical.
posted by wwax at 3:30 PM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

White middle-class protestant Alaskan here, and I have never seen this in anyone's bathrooms. The most risque I've seen is possibly a poop-deck-type joke or an Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:39 PM on July 30, 2014

New England upbringing here — yeah, mostly seashells, potpourri, and endless decorative trays filled with miniature skylines of old, dusty perfume bottles (Jean Naté, I'm looking at you!).

On the other hand, I always loved this poster that friends have in their bathroom (Mid-Atlantic).
posted by mon-ma-tron at 3:57 PM on July 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

I grew up in Baltimore and Chicago and only saw this when going to visit my dad in Detroit in the '70s. Bawdy wallpaper, framed Playboy cartoons and dirty mags in the powder rooms of many of the houses we visited for parties.

I've lived in the South for 25 years now and have never seen anything even close. It would be SCANDALOUS.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:00 PM on July 30, 2014

Ha, this is funny. I am not from here, but I live in the Midwest now and have this photo of a naked bike riding woman in my bathroom: Cycles Gladiator

It just feels like the bathroom is the appropriate place for nudity!
posted by curtains at 4:02 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another U.S. midwesterner (Ohio and Michigan) chiming in that it seems more common in that region than other areas (South and West) I have lived. In my mind it is related to the go crazy in the bathroom - decorate conservatively everywhere but the bathroom. We didn't personally have anything bawdy, but my mother liked to be a bit wild, it was a place to decorate in wild prints, or black and silver, heck I think it might even have been flocked wallpaper!
posted by dawg-proud at 4:04 PM on July 30, 2014

Wow, I'm as white/working-middle class/Midwestern as you get, and I've never seen anything like this anywhere. It's usually seashell prints, or candles on the counter, or something else so equally boring I wouldn't even register it. I vote confirmation bias.
posted by jabes at 4:14 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

From Mid Michigan(23 years) now live in California (7 years). Definitely a thing to have scatalogical or low brow humor, among the white middle class Protestant or Catholic families that made up my friends and family in Michigan. Less nudity but I have a few friends from Michigan who still have nudes in their bathrooms, so I suspect that was just my neighborhood.
posted by holyrood at 4:17 PM on July 30, 2014

I had to think about this a bit - the regional divide was getting to me a little.

But I remembered a New England example - my aunt and uncle (on Cape Cod) had a print in one of their bathrooms that was a copy of a Victorian-era newspaper ad for a flush toilet.

An NYC friend also has a print of Fernando Botero's The Bath in his bathroom.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:28 PM on July 30, 2014

Huh, maybe I didn't know anyone who was actually middle class when I was growing up - Midwestern all my life, never seen this, only read about it in Paul Fussell, who, IRC, describes it as a blue collar thing. All family bathrooms were politely minimal in decor - towels and a mirror and that's about it, and I can't remember seeing anything of the kind in friends' homes.

There has to be some other variable - deep suburbia versus citified or something.

I later had a friend who was Bohemian-from-Bohemia, and his family went in for jovial naked people kitsch from the old country.
posted by Frowner at 4:31 PM on July 30, 2014

Your question reminded me of a documentary I saw in the 80s called Inside Rooms: 26 Bathrooms, London & Oxforshire. It's by Peter Greenaway, famed director of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. You might consider running down a copy for research purposes.

The only middle-class bathroom whose decor I remember had one of those old-timey toilets with the high up the wall tank and pull-chain to flush. The walls were covered with old-timey newspaper advertisements, the kind that Wendy's used to use in their restaurants, way back in the 80s.

I grew up poor, Latina, and Catholic in the American Southwest, and we had no decoration in the bathroom. My equally poor, Latina, Catholic grandmother had elephant-y things and tiny handsoaps. Definitely no nudes. Now that I'm middle-ish class (income wise), I have a few Dia De Los Muertos type things in the bathroom.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 4:38 PM on July 30, 2014

Did you see this post yet?
posted by thelonius at 4:38 PM on July 30, 2014

Growing up in southern Ontario my extended family often had a framed picture of the cottage outhouse in the bathroom. Middle class and Protestant, lots of family pride on both sides. In each case the land had a lot of family history behind it (the actual cottages were small and home built). I'm pretty sure my mum still has one in her bathroom.
posted by five_cents at 5:03 PM on July 30, 2014

Interesting theory, OP.

Here's my data point:

My paternal grandparents were exceedingly proper, upper-middle class WASPy types. All the artwork in their home was super-tasteful; things related to tall ships, old family portraits, New England scenery, that kind of thing.

Except for the weird French print hanging in one bathroom, which was a cartoon of anthropomorphized dogs standing in line for a public urinal, in various states of distress. There's even a prostitute dog in the background!

I loved this thing so much -- as it did suggest a naughty side to them, rarely if ever shown -- that it was the #1 item on my list of desired inherited objects, bypassing my parents and going straight to me.

Obviously, it hangs in my bathroom.
posted by credible hulk at 5:06 PM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

Huh. Growing up, my parents had an Indian (from India) print of women bathing, all partially draped in nearly transparent cloth, and a man in a tree playing a flute to them. I figured it was something he picked up in India when he was in college and studied abroad, but because it was always in my parents bathroom when I was growing up, I didn't think about it twice. (For the record, we lived in Santa Barbara, California, but my father was born in Detroit and grew up in New Jersey - I wouldn't say that his family was wealthy, but they were upper-middle class; my mother was born and raised in Santa Barbara, the daughter of upper-middle class parents, but I don't think she ever really liked that picture.)

I never considered that the picture might reside somewhere in the realms of socially acceptable (or not acceptable) bathroom decor.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:32 PM on July 30, 2014

Yes, in Texas we had this.
posted by 8603 at 5:48 PM on July 30, 2014

It can't just be a Midwest thing, because I've seen the same thing here in OR/WA. It's not EVERY house, by any means... but often those that were decorated by, say, someone my grandparents age or older. And the wallpaper! I have seen a few of those that totally embarrassed the (younger) new inhabitant of the home.
posted by stormyteal at 6:01 PM on July 30, 2014

Family friends of mine growing up moved into a home (in Washington DC) where the previous owners had covered the downstairs bathroom in wallpaper with female nudes. They referred to it as 'the breastroom.' Stripped off that wallpaper as soon as possible.

My own parents (Midwesterners transplanted to NJ) had no bathroom art at all.
posted by ActionPopulated at 6:08 PM on July 30, 2014

Native Clevelander here. Middle class, Catholic upbringing. No nude pictures in my or any of my grandparents/aunts/uncles houses.

Current wall decoration (in the new redone bathroom) are two prints of flowers that I took while in Korea in wainscott (sp) picture frames.
posted by kathrynm at 6:13 PM on July 30, 2014

Upstate New York here and I have racy vintage ads in current master bath. In previous bathroom, there was a vintage ugly bridge painting. In previous previous bathroom, I hung up a picture of Clark Gable.

Added data point - I have nudes in bedroom as well.

My Colorado & Texas family have never had nudes or humor in their bathrooms (that I can recall).
posted by countrymod at 6:27 PM on July 30, 2014

Except for the weird French print hanging in one bathroom, which was a cartoon of anthropomorphized dogs standing in line for a public urinal, in various states of distress. There's even a prostitute dog in the background!

I have seen this exact print in the bathroom of an exceedingly classy fine dining restaurant in wine country, here in Australia.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:05 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The only case I can think of this is a co-worker (who is not Midwestern, white, middle-class, or Protestant) who has lots of very arty photographs in his house. The bathroom has a very arty photograph of a nude woman whose positioning suggests that she may be masturbating -- the angle of the photo makes it ambiguous. I assume the photo is in the bathroom because it would be pretty awkward to have it in a room where you might be looking at it with someone else and there's any possibility of striking up a conversation about it.
posted by phoenixy at 8:09 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, this post reminded me of this essay, which is only indirectly related to your question, but you might find it relevant and interesting.
posted by phoenixy at 8:14 PM on July 30, 2014

Yep, and not just Midwestern. In my experience, it's a sort of down-to-earth nod/signal from blue-collar roots. Also, I feel like it's sort of along the same lines as the pastor telling a very-slightly "earthy/naughty" joke at the informal early-bird service.

Thanks to the previous owner, my childhood home's master bath had cute wallpaper with line drawings of nymphlike nude women. This was in middle-class suburbs south of Baltimore, wallpaper was from 60s or 70s (we moved in in 1975.)
posted by desuetude at 9:59 PM on July 30, 2014

A family friend of my parents in the 70's had the entire bathroom in the den papered with 1950's playboy centerfolds, they were pretty ordinary otherwise.
My mom, a 3rd grade school teacher thought it was great, and talks about it still. She wanted to do one of our bathrooms that way.
posted by boilermonster at 11:22 PM on July 30, 2014

I'm white, my family are Southern Baptists from Texas, and this was totally a thing in my extended families' homes. My grandparents and great aunts/uncles had everything from cross-stitches with silly sayings about cleaning up after yourself to artwork depicting various bathroom activities. There was definitely no nudity, and I think it was all children or animals, which I guess avoided any suggestion of sexualization.
posted by neushoorn at 12:33 AM on July 31, 2014

British person here.

Parents: Lower middle class, in their 60s/70s, very unconcerned with what anyone else might think of anything. Bathroom contains a funny sign enjoining visitors euphemistically to turn on the fan if their shit stinks.

Ex parents in law: Both teachers, same age bracket, one quietly and purposefully stylish. Bathroom contains that famous poster of a tennis player scratching her arse. No other risque artwork in the house that I can remember.

Current parents in law: Working class, same age bracket, same concern for stylish house, bathroom neutral and tasteful and does not contain risque artwork.

All other younger people I know: Flights of bathroom fancy are few and far between, generally confined to sea creature murals or bucket and spade shower curtains or unusual colour schemes.
posted by emilyw at 3:24 AM on July 31, 2014

This is turning into a fascinating thread.

I'm not sure it's a regional thing, and I wonder if instead it may instead be class/aspirational. You know? If you are trying to be "proper" you may not indulge in whimsy in the bathroom, but if you don't care or you feel secure in your social standing, you are more likely to.

My parents (middle-class, Catholic, New England, Dad grew up lower-middle class) didn't do much in the way of bathroom decor when I was growing up (we didn't have room on the walls), and in their current house they have a framed watercolor painting my mom did of a vase of flowers and a restrained collection of seashells/flowers kinds of things; and a calendar and another painting of Mom's in the other bathroom. And while Dad was always more the "I don't care" type, Mom's always been a little proper.

Me, I don't have anything right now, but an old roommate did have a copy of the "Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks" print linked to above and took it when she moved - I've been meaning to replace that with either a print of one of Maigritte's cloud-filled paintings (the colors would match) or either a WPA poster about brushing your teeth or an Indian educational poster about grooming habits. I had a wacky shower curtain in one old apartment, but only because it had been inexplicably left behind by the previous tenant - it was covered with old-timey-style line drawings of topless women and my roommate and I fell in love with it (we left it there and carefully monitored guests's reactions when they went to the bathroom for the first time when visiting - they'd leave the room, there would be a pause, and then we'd hear them call, "Love your shower curtain!") The only reason I haven't gone all "decor" just yet is because I've been too broke to do a poster hunt.

Among friends:

* Middle-class, very intellectual guy - the Fernando print in the bathroom and that's it.
* Two boho types, one raised in the midwest and one raised in Florida - a couple of framed prints of his photos, a few candles she's made, and a fish-shaped vase for matches.
* Middle-class, raised in New England - a crap-ton of concert posters, a couple photo collages of them and their kid, and a stuffed toy version of Opus wearing a shower cap and a towel around its waist balanced on the back of the toilet tank.
* My brother's family - nothing really, except in the kids' bathroom which has a lot of tub-toys and such all over.

Actually, my brother's family raises another good point - it may be that some families don't put much thought into bathroom decor because they've got young children or are overworked and may think "it's just the bathroom so who cares".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:38 AM on July 31, 2014

I like EmpressCallipygos' thought that it could be a bit about your own comfort with your social standing. I might add to that that it could even be a general psychological comfort with yourself in general, although perhaps those two things go hand-in-hand.

As a data point, I can only remember observing this sort of thing once. Coincidentally, it is in the house of good friends who have spent their whole lives in and around Southeast Michigan / Detroit. They have a poster of Bjork covering herself with nothing but a large leaf. They also have pictures of Malcolm McDowell and various other cultish bad boys in their bathroom, along with an Indian public awareness poster about the hazards of drunkenness.

Curiously, my wife, also a Michigander, put up a little mini poster from the Underworld movie above our toilet. She likes "women's action" movies, like the Underworld series, Resident Evils, Aliens, Serenity, etc. We have a four year old, so we also fall under EC's last point about families who don't have much time for decorating!

As for one of your questions about "who studies this?" I would imagine no scholarly articles have been written about this, but I could be surprised. The topic could be addressed quite nicely by a visual sociologist, which is an area a friend of mine did his undergraduate work in. It is also a topic ripe for Žižek given his somewhat satiric essay about national toilet styles as well as his ad copy for one of those controversial teenager clothing brands (I forget which). ((I looked it up - Abercrombie & Fitch))
posted by Slothrop at 5:32 AM on July 31, 2014

I like EmpressCallipygos' thought that it could be a bit about your own comfort with your social standing.

This rings true. Personally I have nudes in other rooms but deliberately not in the bathroom, on the theory that it is a small room that people might have to spend a long time in and while it's easy to avoid looking at a nude in the living room if it bothers you, being forced to stare at one while you poop might make someone uncomfortable.

The social dynamics of and best practices for displaying art with naked bodies and occasional sexual themes is probably a worthwhile AskMe in itself.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:37 AM on July 31, 2014

I think there's also a generational component, actually, which might relate to the whole "comfort with naked people art" thing. When I encounter naked people art in a bathroom that's out of keeping with the taste in the rest of the apartment/house, my immediate feeling is "these folks are nudge-nudge-wink-wink about nudity because they are vaguely uncomfortable about it", and I suspect that given how much more explicit even ordinary stuff is now than it was in the fifties or sixties, I would expect "hide the nudes in the bathroom and make sure they're kind of comic ones" to be a dying attitude.

I once volunteered at a bookstore (quick, Minneapolitans, see if you know this place) which had been originally decorated in perhaps the late sixties, and which had this absolutely ridiculous kitsch wallpaper in the [rather horrible] bathroom - little black and white line drawings of comic people in the tub, sixties-retro depictions of Victorian toilets, etc. The whole thing was just a brand of humor you'd never expect to see now, somehow. The guy who ran the place - retired now, sixty-ish then, had his formative experiences as a gay man before AIDS - thought it was too camp for words and never wanted to change it. The straighter the volunteer, the more embarrassing they found it.

I find the whole question of bodies-which-are-acceptable-for-art to be so vexed that I don't really like to have recognizable art of people at all. I have a painting of Goethe fighting a sea monster in one of Italy's larger lakes (or at least I tell myself it's Goethe - he is very small, a tiny figure in a white shirt) and a city landscape painted by a college friend and a couple of prints done by friends of my artist great-aunt and some political posters, and that about takes care of things.
posted by Frowner at 6:54 AM on July 31, 2014

I haven't seen this in Ottawa-and-environs middle class. I have seen gently risqué art in upper middle and lulzy signage in lower middle, but to me, the hallmark of the middle class bathroom is its aiming to be a living room that happens to have a toilet in it.

Paul Fussell is the only name who leaps to mind as a shrewd analyst of this sort of thing and I can't remember if he touches much on bathrooms.

The "Restoration Hardware" catalogue gives me a thrill because it has a lot of things priced for upper-middles but as tacky as anything at a 1970s K-Mart. Perhaps most notably: $1k+ "TV easels." Their bathrooms are very low on decor but where you can see it, it apes the middle-ish "sea" theme already mentioned. (RH is hopelessly non-upper despitebecause of its aspirational bent.)
posted by kmennie at 7:25 AM on July 31, 2014

This was a thing in my family with my grandparent's generation (born in the 1920's and 30's). Usually toilet-humour signs and mildly risque comedic decor. Campy and kitschy if anything. I have never seen it in the homes of younger generations.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:43 AM on July 31, 2014

My generally conservative (white Catholic Republican banker & teacher of Polish and Italian background) neighbors in Michigan had wallpaper featuring faux-oldtimey-styled cartoon men and women bathing in their finished basement bathroom. I'm guessing they chose this wallpaper as young adults in the late '70s or early '80s. It always seemed odd to me that 1) anyone produced this wallpaper, 2) my neighbors chose it, 3) for the bathroom right next to the children's play area. But I make all of my guests confront a painting of food/body horror in my main hallway, so who am I to judge. I can't think of any other bathrooms, in Michigan or anywhere else, where I saw risque decor.
posted by twoporedomain at 9:13 AM on July 31, 2014

I just asked my two co-workers, and one introduced yet another angle - she's really into feng shui, and claims that the feng shui approach to bathrooms is that it's supposed to be functional and utilitarian - you get in, do your business and get out. You don't want it to be a place that invites lingering, so the bathroom decor in feng shui is nigh unto minimal.

I know jack about feng shui myself and am taking her at her word. But it could be another justification for "no decor at all because who cares".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on July 31, 2014

The only time I have ever seen anything "titillating" in someone's home, bathroom or not, was a blown up print of the homeowner topless as she lived with her husband who was a well-known fashion photographer.

I've never seen anything hung in a bathroom that wasn't a landscape or painting of a boat or something.
posted by The Whelk at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2014

White Catholic midwesterner here and I have a lot of older relatives with things like this. Drawings of little boys peeing, little poems about .... peeing, stuff like that.
posted by gerstle at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Come to think of it, it has been a long time since I saw a Alphonse Mucha or Maxfield Parrish print in a bathroom or anywhere else - I very much appreciated their sensitivity to the female form when I was a teenager. Are they out of fashion or have I just aged out of the demographic that has museum posters of Picasso, Matisse, and Modigliani nudes? The dogs waiting to pee must be Chacon Son Tour by Boris O'Klein, which would have served an East Coast Anglophile of a certain disposition and generation as a marker of sophistication, being French and (very) mildly racy. As a young man I found myself in a few middle-class Midwestern houses with framed, explicitly scatological humor in the bathroom. This embarrassed and confused me, as I was a horrible prig.
posted by jcrcarter at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Half of my extended family is New Jersey through and through, and this is definitely a thing - I can think of five families off the top of my head with this sort of decor.
posted by pintapicasso at 4:49 PM on July 31, 2014

Yes, I've seen this as well in Vancouver, British Columbia. The mention of little boys peeing jogged my memory, I've definitely seen like a framed pencil sketch style piece of art of a naked child peeing into a classical Italian fountain. It always struck me as scandalous but somehow innocent as well, a fine balance that I only now recognize as deeply strange.
posted by kaspen at 5:01 PM on July 31, 2014

Canadian Prairies, here, and yes, this is totally A Thing here too. Pretty much everyone in my grandparents' generation of lower-middle class home-owners had stuff like this -- framed plates of little kids peeing in antique toilets and chamber pots, or cartoons from the 70s of "cowboys" and "cowgirls" with no clothes on. I used to think it was just my grandparents and their friends, who were all a rowdy bunch, but no. When we bought this farm, we bought the furnishings of one of the houses with it, and the previous farmers were a very straight-laced, Protestant, fastidious bunch, but even they included the cartoon on the bathroom wall, of a farmer, naked from the waist down, running after his combine -- captioned "Harvest Moon."
Incidentally, my Czech in-laws are also into this kind of thing and have a wood carving of a folksy Czech guy shitting on a stick, with some Czech saying carved into it. The turds are carved and tinted with care. But then back in the day everyone in their rural Albertan village thought they were particularly risque European immigrants because they had some art by Mucha on the wall and IT SHOWED BOOBS and the art was in the hallway not the bathroom! Scandalous!
posted by bluebelle at 8:49 PM on July 31, 2014

Come to think of it, it has been a long time since I saw a Alphonse Mucha or Maxfield Parrish print in a bathroom or anywhere else

Oh, I don't think that stuff is "out of fashion." I've got a Mucha copy that I would dearly love to hang in my current apartment (main room/hallway, not hidden in the bathroom); sadly, my girlfriend (a Millennial who totally adores Parrish, by the way) has blocked me due to it being not-framed-yet/very-ratty. I have many friends (general age 30 -- 45?) who have something from one or the other. These are mostly artsy people, though. Those who are more decorative tend to go for a more graphic/bolder vintage French/Italian product poster, I think, which makes sense. (A trend that I identify with the 80s, but that is still common in dorm rooms and first apartments to this day.)

Waitamminit, are you saying I've aged out of being cool?

The dogs waiting to pee must be Chacon Son Tour

Yeah, that's it (or rather, a variant)! Thanks for the additional info. And I do suspect that the grandparents who err, passed it down to me might well fit the demo you're describing.
posted by credible hulk at 11:01 PM on July 31, 2014

My Puerto Rican, Catholic grandparents had this print hanging in their pink tiled and very ornate full bathroom in San Jose, CA for at least 40 years (that's not their picture, but it's a photo of someone else's print that I found when googling the artist, Leo Jansen). In their other, half bathroom (used mainly by my grandfather when the other was in use) there was a cheaply framed print that was sort of like this but not exactly. Obviously, that was a newer addition.

Funny (related) story: both my brother and I grew up seeing the Leo Jansen girl in the bathroom. Pretty sure that was the first set of boobs either of us ever remembered seeing. My mom and uncle would joke and tell people it was a painting of my grandmother in her younger days (my stepdad fell for this one). When my grandfather died in 2010 (nine years after my grandmother), and it came time to clear out the house, I couldn't be there, so my brother laid claim to the infamous picture. That was the one thing both of us wanted from our grandparents, and I was slightly resentful that he got to it first. This past Christmas, I received the best present from my brother: a brand new print of the Leo Jansen portrait for my own bathroom. He said he hunted it all over eBay for me for years and finally scored it in March of 2013, paying probably ten times what my grandparents had paid for theirs. I have never laughed so hard when opening up a present, and it's absolutely one of the best gifts I've ever received.
posted by Fuego at 10:19 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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