Joseph Mallord William Turner

Swans in Motion


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 69 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXII 43 a

Catalogue entry

These rapid studies, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, include a swan apparently landing or preparing to take off from water and others in flight; they may have been made on the River Thames west of London, the subject of various drawings in this sketchbook (see the Introduction).
A large, unfinished watercolour of about 1805, traditionally known as ‘The Swan’s Nest’ (Tate D04163; Turner Bequest LXX L) shows Syon House, beside the Thames at Brentford, the likely subject of the sketch on folio 41 verso (D08349), and the birds remain particularly associated with the river.1 Earlier studies include those in the Swans sketchbook (Tate D01689, D01690; Turner Bequest XLII 14, 15) and the Salisbury sketchbook (Tate D02246; Turner Bequest XLIX 4) of the late 1790s.
See ‘Swan Upping’, The British Monarchy, accessed 11 September 2013,
Technical notes:
The outer edges of the page are stained from proximity to the leather overlaps under the paste-down inside the back cover (D40901). The final figure of the watermark appears to be a ‘1’ but might possibly be a ‘4’ (see the Introduction to the sketchbook).

Matthew Imms
September 2013

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