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Untitled (For Tamara Toumanova)

A work made of box construction.
© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

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  • A work made of box construction.


c. 1940


Joseph Cornell
American, 1903–1972

About this artwork

Like Hommage à Tamara Toumanova, this box (also known as Feathered Swan) was made for the ballerina Tamara Toumanova. Cornell saw Toumanova perform Swan Lake in 1941, and he subsequently often associated her with this role. The swan here evidently suggests her presence, floating as it does above feathers that more vividly evoke the dancer’s costume than the bird itself. Cornell did on occasion incorporate actual fragments of the dancer’s costume in his tributes to Toumanova. On the back of one of these, Swan Lake for Tamam Toumanova (1946, Houston, Menil Foundation), Cornell wrote, “An actual wisp or two of a white feather from a head piece worn by Toumanova in Swan Lake mingles with the larger ones bordering the box” (Christine Hennessey, “ Joseph Cornell : A Balletomane,” Archives of American Art Journal 23, 3 [1983], p. 11 and fig. 2). The white paper cutout swan covered with white feathers, like the swan in Cygnecre pusculaire, recalls Cornell’s miniature paper cutouts of scenes from Hans Christian Andersen.

— Entry, Dawn Ades, Surrealist Art: The Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1997, p. 42.


On View, Gallery 397


Modern Art


Joseph Cornell


Untitled (For Tamara Toumanova)


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Box construction


Embossed on bottom of box: A Few Interesting Facts About CALIFORNIA REDWOOD [. . .]


Closed: 4.2 × 40.7 × 28.3 cm (1 5/8 × 16 × 11 1/8 in.); Bottom: 3.2 × 40.7 × 28.3 cm (1 1/4 × 16 × 11 1/8 in.); Top: 0.5 × 40.7 × 28.3 cm (3/16 × 16 × 11 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Lindy and Edwin Bergman Joseph Cornell Collection in memory of Robert Cornell

Reference Number



© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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