Italian PM caught in nude painting row

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London, Aug 4 : Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is at the centre of media scrutiny over a painting in his house that shows the nude breast of a female figure.

The Italian press accused him of Victorian prudery after noticing the skin show in a reproduction of a painting by Giampbattista Tiepolo at Palazzo Chigi, the Prime Minister's residence Titled 'Truth Revealed by Time', the painting was chosen by Berlusconi as the backdrop for his press conferences at Palazzo Chigi after he took office for the third time in May.

But, the assets of the female figure in the painting had been mysteriously draped in a gauze tunic, which, according to La Stampa, had been applied digitally.

"Perhaps the Prime Minister's staff feared that the attention of journalists was being drawn to the breast over his left shoulder rather than to what he was saying," Times Online quoted the paper as saying.

The staff at his residence said that the breast could "offend the sensibilities of some people", hinting towards female ministers in Berlusconi's Cabinet.

The press in Italy went to the extent of comparing the Tiepolo cover up to the Vatican's censorship of Michelangalo's Sistine Chapel frescoes in the sixteenth century, when his "indecorous nudes" were similarly draped in gauze. Berlusconi's spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti revealed that it was the female staff at Palazzo Chigi that had asked for the "re-touching".

Art critic and former deputy Culture Ministerm Vittorio Sgarbi said that the move was "madness".

He added: "I can only hope Berlusconi did not know about it."

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