Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Isabella Bentinck 1690s

Charles Dagar 

Portrait of Isabella Bentinck, Charles Dagar
Oil on canvas
17th Century
30 x 25 inches 76 x 63.5cm
Collection of the Aitcheson family, London. Christie's, 7 July 1933, Lot. 108.
Isabella Bentinck, a celebrated beauty, was the fifth daughter of William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland by his wife, Anne, sister of Edward, 1st Earl of Jersey and daughter of Sir Edward Villiers. She married on 2nd August 1714 as his second wife, Evelyn Pierrepont, the then Marquis of Dorchester (1665-1726). Lady Louisa Stuart, a society contemporary, noted Lady Belle Bentinck was 'one of the most admired beauties in London, and had long been the object of his Grace's pursuit.'

This portrait, which captures the beauty for which Isabella was renowned, can be dated to around the time of her marriage to Dorchester in 1714. As a member of the Kit-Cat Club her husband was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1709, and Isabella was also painted by Kneller c. 1720. 2

The Dorchesters were among the most prominent figures in fashionable society and Macky said of him: 'He hath a good estate, is a very fine gentleman, of good sense, well-bred, and a lover of ladies, intirely in the interest of his country; makes a good figure, is of black complexion.' 3

Her husband also held an a number of important and infuential public positions, being a Commissioner for the Union with Scotland in April 1706, for which he was created Marquis of Dorchester the same year. He was active as a Privy Councillor from June 1708 and was Lord Privy Seal, 1716-8 and
1720-26; and Lord President of the Council 1718-20. Having been created in August 1715, Duke of Kingston-Upon-Hull, he was installed as a Knight of the Garter in June 1719.

They had two daughters: Carolina who married in 1749, Thomas Brand of Kimpton in Hertfordshire and Anne who died unmarried in 1739. Isabella died in Paris on 23 February 1728 and was buried at Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire.

Charles Dagar was the son of the painter Jacques D''Agar with whose family he migrated to England in 1681 and whom he accompanied to Copenhagen in c.1685. His father remained as court painter in Denmark where he died in 1715, but Charles returned to England and settled in London in 1691, where he established a successful portrait practice. By 1707 he was charging 7 for a head and shoulders and 12 for a three-quarter length.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.