Sir Stanley Spencer
Swan Upping at Cookham 1915–9

Artwork details

Sir Stanley Spencer 1891–1959
Swan Upping at Cookham
Date 1915–9
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 1480 x 1162 mm
frame: 1665 x 1355 x 80 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1962
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1910

Display caption

‘Swan upping’, when the swans are marked, is an annual ritual on the Thames. Spencer said this work was inspired while he was in church and could hear people on the river outside. He explained: ‘the village seemed as much a part of the atmosphere prevalent in the church as the most holy part of the church.’ This fusion of the everyday and the divine was typical of his attitude to his Christian faith. The completion of this work was delayed by Spencer’s involvement in the First World War. He had trouble when he returned to it, as he said ‘it is not proper or sensible to expect to paint after such experience’.

July 2007

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