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This subject is typical of Burne-Jones' interest in medieval tales of witchcraft and sorcery. It is unlikely, however, that it is based on an identifiable literary text. Instead, the image creates a sense of expectancy and mystery.
Stylistically the rich, dry textures of this gouache painting resemble a series of watercolours begun in 1882, in which Burne-Jones sought visual images for the names of flowers.

September 2004