I first heard about Dido Elizabeth Belle on Medieval People of Color (which I featured as an Art Discovery). She was super cool – the daughter of an admiral and a captured African slave from Spain, she was educated and seemed to have enjoyed a level of freedom and respect rarely experienced by women, black people, and/or illegitimate children in the 1700s.
She’s the subject of the film Belle, which I encourage everyone to watch if you get the chance!
Dido Elizabeth Belle was raised with her cousin in the house of her great-uncle, who was Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. She took charge of portions of her great-uncle’s estate and assisted him with his correspondence, which I’m sure was complicated business.
I drew her fairly quickly with pencil. I made her eyes super big because her portrait has those idealized big eyes too.
This is cropped from the portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle with her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Mary Murray. I love it because she seems so spirited and interesting.