Revealed: The woman who inspired Pablo Picasso and Brigitte Bardot

Revealed: The woman who inspired Pablo Picasso and Brigitte Bardot

Inside look

Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Getty Images,

Revealed, an exhibition of images curated by Pablo Picasso’s grandson Olivier Widmaier Picasso shows some of the women who've inspired artists

Meet the woman who allegedly inspired Brigitte Bardot to don her iconic ponytail.

Pablo Picasso

One fine summer's day in '50s Côte d'Azur, 73-year old Pablo Picasso found himself drawn to a 19-year old woman whom he spotted wearing her blonde hair in a distinctively high ponytail with a thick fringe. The young lass, forever immortalised as Sylvette David, went on to become one of his greatest muses (who, interestingly, was never romantically involved with the artist), appearing in more than 40 portraits of various mediums, including drawings, sculptures and paintings.

Sylvette David, now known as Lydia Corbett, in 2014

The artist worked with her for over a three-month period, encapsulating her in one of his varied ranges of work, from realist to cubist, as well as abstract forms. Pop culture also got the better of her, with the lyrics "She's Venus in blue jeans / Mona Lisa with a ponytail" in the '60s pop hit Venus in Blue Jeans, as well as Picasso And The Girl With A Ponytail, a children's book by Laurence Anholt.


Brigitte Bardot also jumped on the ponytail bandwagon, allegedly inspired after seeing Picasso's work in Paris Match, a famous French weekly. The original sex kitten then took the humble ponytail to greater heights, bringing the tomboy-ish bounce to sultry magazine covers and provocative movie scenes. The tousled waves also went on to feature in other artwork — notably that of Kees Van Dongen's, the Dutch painter famed for his bohemian eroticism. 

Kees Van Dongen

The four meet again in 'Revealed', an exhibition of images curated by Pablo Picasso's grandson, Olivier Widmaier Picasso. Personally selecting the 30 photographs from the archives of Paris Match, they're part of a world tour which has already toured North America and Europe, and will take place in selected cities in China. Here's your chance to see these rare photographs of the artists at work, and the women under their microscope.

Revealed will be shown in Sofitel Beijing Wanda from 1 to 20 September, Sofitel Shanghai Hyland from 13 October to 2 November and Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich from 13 November to 3 December.