During the Great Depression, New Deal programs provided work for a range of unemployed Americans, including visual artists who were commissioned to paint murals in federal buildings around the country. Some of these painters found that their expressions clashed with local tastes, particularly when murals portrayed American society, past and present, in a critical light. In the case of this mural for Richmond’s Parcel Post Building by Paul Cadmus, titled “Pocahontas Rescuing Captain John Smith,” it was male nudity that roused concern. Although Pocahontas’s breast remained bared, along with the foreground Indian brave’s buttocks, Cadmus had to retouch a suggestive foxhead that he had mischievously placed over another brave’s groin.
Source: Paul Cadmus, Pocahontas Rescuing Captain John Smith, 1939, mural—National Archives.