Lady Elizabeth Thimbelby and Dorothy, Viscountess Andover

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Anthony van Dyck was largely responsible for introducing the double or ‘friendship’ portrait to Britain. The informal composition of this painting as well as the quantities of shimmering silk on display perfectly illustrate the appeal of Van Dyck’s new style to aristocratic British patrons eager for innovation. The two women in the portrait, Dorothy and Elizabeth, were the eldest surviving daughters of Thomas, 1st Viscount Savage. It was once thought that the picture was painted around the time of Dorothy’s scandalous elopement in 1637, and that she was the sister seated on the right. But this theory has been disproved, and a contemporary copy of the painting identifies Dorothy as standing on the left. Elizabeth wears a saffron-coloured gown – a colour said to have been worn by brides in ancient Greece.

The National Gallery, London



Lady Elizabeth Thimbelby and Dorothy, Viscountess Andover


about 1637


Oil on canvas


H 132.1 x W 149 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1977

Work type



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