SIA: Dido Belle portrait

It’s my turn again to curate another Style Imitating Art (SIA) challenge!

SIA inspiration:

I have chosen the double portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray, circa 1779, once attributed to Johann Zoffany. (The actual painter is still unknown.) This was the portrait that inspired the 2013 film, Belle, about the real-life, mixed-race young lady, Dido Belle, who was born into slavery in the British West Indies and ended up a heiress in London, England. The painting was commissioned by Lord Mansfield (William Murray), and depicts both of his great-nieces, Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Belle. The two ladies were second cousins.

Portrait of Dido Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray, circa 1779 (public domain)

Portrait of Dido Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray, circa 1779 (public domain)

I chose this painting because it’s been on my personal board of SIA possibilities for awhile. It’s such an intriguing painting, with differing styles of dress and poses and facial expressions that seem to be telling a story… or maybe holding back a story? Dido seems to be pulling away, while her cousin is holding on to her by the elbow. Both have polite smiles, but Dido’s expression seems a bit impish. Their styles of dress are very different, yet they are both wearing pearl chokers. Like I said, a very intriguing painting.

This SIA round also spans the end of February and beginning of March, and March is International Women’s Month, so I thought it would be fitting to feature a painting of two women. You can read more about the painting here, in this article about how this enigmatic painting inspired a movie, and more here about the real-life Dido Belle.

Lots of scope here for sartorial inspiration, including different textures and patterns (lace, satin, tulle, floral, pearls, feathers) colors (white, pink, green, black, turquoise), and potential props (flowers, book, bench, turban).

Here’s how to participate in SIA:

Everyone is welcome to participate — bloggers, non-bloggers, all genders, all ages, even pets! Just send a pic of an outfit — selfies and flat lays are also welcome — inspired by this week’s SIA artwork to this week’s curator, me, at, by next Tuesday, March 6th. I will then include you in the SIA round-up on my blog on Wednesday, March 7th.

Can’t wait to see what y’all are inspired to wear!


3 thoughts on “SIA: Dido Belle portrait

  1. Phyllis

    Jennifer, thanks for showing the Wikipedia connection so that I could read all about the interesting lives of the two cousins. Now I have to see the movie!
    Love, Mom

  2. Pingback: SIA: “Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray” – Post Card Purposes

Please leave a comment and share!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.