Status of Original Painting – For Sale
All prices are in Canadian dollars
Size: 13.25 x 20 inches
Medium: Watercolour on 300 lb Arches
A herd of mute swans was swimming toward me, probably expecting food to be tossed to them, when they passed into shadows. Suddenly the waters displayed a mesmerizing and kaleidoscopic collision of black and white waves and ripples, with hints of blues and earthy tones. I knew I’d be painting that scene someday.
Swans are known for their beauty, size, grace, fierce defense of their young, and a legendary mating for life. I called this “Cygnus” because the word is derived from the Greek word kuknos for swan; it’s the name of the genus to which swans belong, and the name of a constellation (Cygnus the Swan).
This scene could be almost anywhere, but it is an international scene of a mute swan on the river Thames near Windsor Castle in England. I took the reference photos in 2014 during a trip there. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the ancient title Seigneur of the Swans, and so any unmarked mute swans on open waters of England and Wales were considered hers. But on the River Thames, the swans had three owners: the Queen, the Worshipful Company of Vintners, and the Worshipful Company of Dyers. Each July, during Swan Uppers, three teams of Swan Uppers representing the owners would count, weigh, measure, and tag (mark) the birds. Presumably King Charles has now taken over the royal share of ownership.
I sketched the outlines of this painting on August 31, and then the Queen died on September 8, when I had barely begun painting the waters in the upper quarter of the image. I thought then that this painting could be considered a tribute to Her Majesty.