The sister-in-law of Sidonia, Clara von Bork is a character from Wilhelm Meinhold’s novel Sidonia the Scorceress
, the fictionalised tale of a Pomeranian woman executed for witchcraft in 1620. Meinhold’s story was translated into English by Lady Wilde in 1849, and was a popular work among members of the Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood. The picture of Clara is in sharp contrast to its partner painting Sidonia von Bork 1560
in its use of bright colours and soft textures. Burne-Jones paints her holding a clutch of dove chicks whilst a black cat circles her feet – a reference to Clara’s grim fate at the hands of the witch Sidonia.
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Clara von Bork 1560
Date of work
Original: Watercolour and gouache on paper 34.2 x 17.9 cm Tate. Bequeathed by W. Graham Robertson 1948 Photo: © Tate 2018
An English painter, Sir Edward Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham and educated at Oxford, where he met his lifelong friend William Morris. He studied briefly under Dante Gabriel Rossetti but soon outgrew his influence despite retaining great respect for him. Burne-Jones later visited Italy with John Ruskin, seeing works by Botticelli and Mantegna which had a profound influence on him. From 1878, Burne-Jones gained a European reputation and influenced both continental Symbolism and Art Nouveau.