Mrs Clara Sheridan was the widow of Captain William Sheridan, great grandson of the famous playwright, Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Her husband was killed leading a Rifle Brigade assault at the Battle of Loos on 25th September 1915, five days after the birth of his son. She became a renowned sculptress through her busts of Herbert Asquith and Winston Churchill, but her political sympathies lay with the Bolshevik cause, rather than the British government.
Clara was entranced by the head of the Soviet trade delegation, Lev Kamenev, when she met him in London and accepted his invitation to visit Moscow. Arriving after the Second World Congress of the Communist international on 11th September 1920, she was given privileged access to Russia’s magnificent art collections and completed busts of many Bolshevik leaders, including Lenin and Trotsky.
She did not visit Brian Horrocks and the other British soldiers in prison, who were appalled when they heard that she had sculpted a bust of the murderous head of the Secret Police, Felix Dzerzhinsky. They were even more shocked when they read her obsequious description of him: “one can see martyrdom crystallized in his eyes” and her feelings of “real sadness that I may never see him again” because they had witnessed the abject misery forced on millions of ordinary Russians by Dzerzhinsky’s Red Terror.