Scone Palace's famous Dido Belle painting provides inspiration for Gucci beauty campaign

29 October 2018

A long-time favourite location of photographers, Scone Palace has a rich history and stunning aesthetic which makes it in high demand for fashion shoots and fashion shows.

It therefore is no surprise that one of the Palace’s most iconic and celebrated works of art has been selected to appear on world-famous Italian fashion house Gucci’s newly unveiled beauty Instagram account @guccibeauty.

The portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, which made national headlines recently for the mystery surrounding its artist, has now been featured in the launch feed of the global fashion house’s beauty Instagram.

The 18th century portrait has been posted alongside a series of artworks spanning across history, ethnicity, culture and geography, from 2000-year-old Egyptian portraits to faces of nobility from Elizabethan England. Guided by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele’s vision of beauty, @guccibeauty will be a platform where Gucci will show new launches in the beauty arena.  

This international exposure is the latest chapter to the fascinating story of the portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle. The mystery surrounding its artist was resolved recently after a BBC investigation carried out by the popular TV art series Fake or Fortune? Art expert Philip Mould determined that the portrait was by Scots artist David Martin, when it had long been unknown – tentatively attributed to the German artist Johann Zoffany.

The story of Dido Elizabeth Belle was also made into a feature film, Belle, in 2013 which told the story of Dido’s life. It was the Earl of Mansfield who brought up Dido Belle, the mixed-race daughter of an African slave and his nephew Sir John Lindsay, after Lindsay brought her to the UK. The Murrays were already guardians to their niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray, and brought up Dido as a free, educated girl in their home at Kenwood House, Hampstead.

The portrait was painted at Kenwood in about 1779 and sees St Paul’s Cathedral in the background. It features Lady Elizabeth and Dido Belle sitting on a bench, Dido seeming to coyly point to her face and holding a bowl of fruit.

Lady Mansfield of Scone Palace said:

“It is wonderful to see the Dido and Elizabeth painting featured by Gucci on their new @guccibeauty Instagram account. It is a beautiful portrait and we are delighted to see it celebrated alongside so many historically significant portraits. This portrait’s story continues to grow and it is proving to be as culturally important today as it was when it was painted in 1779.”

Scone Palace is preparing to host an exclusive evening dedicated to the fascinating story of Dido Elizabeth Belle. Lady Mansfield will host the event on November 1 about the famous portrait, which hangs in the Palace’s Ambassador’s Room, followed by a tour of never-before-seen David Martin paintings in other quarters of the Palace.

Lady Mansfield added:

“I’m looking forward to sharing the story of this historically important painting with visitors during this special tour. There will also be an exclusive opportunity for guests to see some more of David Martin’s remarkable works which haven’t been widely seen. It is set be a great evening for all who attend.”

An Exclusive Dido Belle Evening with Lady Mansfield is on November 1 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.