Maimonides and Pictures of Topless Women

Mitchel First (author of Esther Unmasked) alerted me to the fact that a Marc Shapiro found topless women adorning holy books - and indeed he had in his new book, Changing the Immutable, "a whole chapter there about the printing of Rambam's and other halakhic works that had illustrations of topless women on their title pages and ... this was normal at some point!"

That snip above is from the title page (TP) of Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Amsterdam 1702. Here is the whole title page.

The work was printed by the Athias printing house:
In the middle of the seventeenth century, Joseph Athias established a combined Hebrew-Dutch printing house in Amsterdam, which turned into a success. His son, Immanuel Athias took over the management of the Hebrew printing in 1685. In 1702, he published Maimonides' Mishneh Torah in four volumes. The edition was dedicated to Moses Machado, army purveyor of King William III of England, who gave financial support to the printing house for buying new printing equipment.
I do not think that Artscroll Mesorah publishers or any Orthodox publisher would approve today of such a depiction in any of their books.

And honestly, I don't know why. I cannot explain when and how some Orthodox Jews became Puritans. 

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