Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Portrait Of Dido Elizabeth Belle And Lady Elizabeth Murray That The Movie "Belle" Is Based On

The portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle and Lady Elizabeth Murray by Johann Zoffany

I can plainly see why Misan Sagay (screen writer for the movie Belle) was intrigued by this painting while visiting Scone Palace in Scotland.  The painting's label read: "Portrait of Lady Elizabeth Murray, circa 1778." Of course, any one of us would be curious to know who the woman on the left was, and so was Ms. Sagay.

Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761-1804) was an illegitimate daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay and an African slave named Maria Belle.  Dido's father sent her to live with his uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield.  Incredibly for this time and age, she was brought up as a free young gentlewoman at Kenwood House with her cousin Elizabeth.  It is said that William Murray might have been influenced by Belle in his capacity as Lord Chief Justice when he ruled on cases affecting the legitimacy of the slave trade.

I highly recommend seeing "Belle".  It reminded me a little of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.  Belle, like Fanny lives in luxury, yet is not completely accepted or a part of it.  They both are aware that they are different.  They both are opposed to slavery.  And they both escape bad fiances to marry cute good guys in the end!  Besides a wonderful story, "Belle" offers lush and beautiful costumes and scenery.

The actors Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who plays Dido, and Sam Reid, who plays her love interest, John Davinier, are exceptionally good at tearing up to tug at our heartstrings.  I expect to see much more of them in future films.


  1. I am very excited to see this movie - it's topping my "want to watch" list for 2014. I adore it then historical films shine the spotlight on women, especially those like Dido who have mystery surrounding them.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. I would love to see this movie, sounds like a storyline Id be very interested in. And Gugu is part South African! I am always grateful for your every comment :)

  3. You've piqued my interest in this film! Mansfield Park is one of my favorite Jane Austen tales.

    Rowena @ rolala loves

  4. Super awesome post! My eyes lit up, because I saw a preview of this movie and plan on seeing it this week. Good to hear you liked it.

  5. On, how cool! I hadn't heard of this, but I'm adding it to my watch list :)