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    Nude self-portrait banned from art exhibition because artist

    A celebrated artist's nude self-portrait has been banned from an art competition because organisers deemed it to be too saucy.

    Maxime Xavier was told that her nipples were too big in the picture and that it was therefore too risque for public viewing.

    Maxime's painting depicts her naked but for a sarong being held by a lover.

    Maxime insists that her picture is no more explicit than nudes by artists such as Rubens exhibited in galleries worldwide.

    But organisers of the art competition show in Lyme Regis, Dorset, insisted that she remove it.

    Maxime, whose paintings of Sheikh Mohammed's racehorses and racing legend Desert Orchid have been featured and sold around the world, branded the decision "crazy".

    She said: "It is ludicrous to say that the good people of Lyme Regis need to be protected from seeing my nipples.

    "A few people on the organising committee told me that my painting could not be shown because my nipples were too erect.

    "It is not as if I am knocking things off shelves with them when I go shopping.

    "I use myself as the model in front of a mirror because it saves paying someone else and I paint late at night when I cannot expect another model to pose for me.

    "I cannot apologise for my nipples being erect because, luckily, they have always looked this way.

    "This is not hard or even soft porn. It is just a beautiful, sensual painting with a lot of feeling in it.

    "Nudes have been exhibited in galleries for hundreds of years. The paintings in London's National Gallery are far more explicit than this. Do they want to close that down too?

    "I cannot imagine anyone being offended in this day and age when we have Page 3 girls in newspapers."

    Maxime Xavier's nude portrait

    Maxime Xavier hides the nipples in her self-portrait, which the organizer's said were too big for public viewing

    Maxime has lived in Lyme Regis for ten years and runs her own gallery.

    She has designed the town's carnival brochure in the past and won the same art competition two years ago. But this time around, she was asked to remove her painting.

    She said: "I am well known for my work in town and everyone who has seen the painting in my gallery thinks it is harmless and that the ban is ridiculous. Noone has ever objected to any of my work before.

    "They should be promoting local artists rather than squashing them. This is how I earn a living and I am very passionate about my art.

    "The painting is called 'Possession'. It is a serious work and shows a man holding his lover tightly as if he owns her while she appears lovey-dovey."

    Mike Cawte, manager of the Town Mill gallery, said the painting had been deemed unsuitable.

    He said: "This might be small town prudery but it is just a storm in a teacup.

    "Various people were unhappy with Maxime's painting.

    "At this time of year the majority of our visitors are not artists. They are holidaymakers, families with young children who come off the beach and see the gallery.

    "It was just felt when the works were being hung that it was not quite right for the exhibition and we spoke to Maxime to see whether she wanted to submit something else, but she did not feel she wanted to."

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