Investigating an art mystery at Scottish castle

A Scottish castle featured on TV last Sunday in popular TV series Fake or Fortune?

Scone Palace appeared on in last weekend’s edition when journalist Fiona Bruce and art expert Philip Mould investigate the famous portrait of Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Belle.

The series, which looks at mysteries behind paintings, asks whether the portrait was painted by artist Johann Zoffany.

The episod, addresses questions many art critics have posed over the years: who is the artist behind this beautiful and intriguing painting which has long been attributed to the German artist Johann Zoffany?

Dido Elizabeth Belle was the mixed-race daughter of an African slave Maria Belle and British naval captain, Sir John Lindsay. Maria died when Dido was a young child; it was then that Sir John asked his uncle and aunt, the Earl and Countess of Mansfield to look after Dido. They were already guardians to their niece, Lady Elizabeth Murray and brought up Dido as a free, educated girl on their estate at Kenwood House, Hampstead.

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

The painting draws interested crowds at the Palace, one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions, especially given the popularity of Belle, the film about her life, released in 2014.

Lady Mansfield of Scone Palace, who will host an exclusive Dido Belle evening at the Palace on November 1, said: ‘The Dido painting, which hangs in our Ambassador’s Room at Scone Palace, is always a favourite with visitors and still fascinates me. It poses all sorts of questions about race, identity and class. It was a treat to work with Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould, I have always wanted to know who actually painted the picture.’

Fake or Fortune? can be viewed HERE.