About this artwork

The tiny swan in this painting looks as if it is swimming serenely inside the woman, replacing the foetus inside her pregnant body. The drawing combines male and female elements, with the phallic nature of the swan's neck. Beuys had been fascinated with swans since childhood. A sculpture of a large golden swan sat on top of the tower of Schwanenburg castle (Swan Castle) in his home town of Cleves, and was visible from his bedroom window while he was growing up. With his interest in language, the artist would also have delighted in the similarity between the German words for pregnant woman (Schwangere) and swan (Schwan).

Updated before 2020

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  • artist:
    Joseph BeuysGerman (1921 - 1986)
  • title:
    Schwangere und Schwan [Pregnant Woman with Swan]
  • date created:
    1959
  • materials:
    Oil paint and watercolour on paper
  • measurements:
    27.60 x 21.30 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • accession number:
    AR00114
  • gallery:
  • subject:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms
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Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys