Picasso’s mysterious muse aka Lady in the Ponytail

Picasso is the old and conventional painter of his time. His series ‘Lady in the Ponytail’ was the first and last that has more than 60 portraits of a single muse. The muse and her story are quite intriguing as well.

When it comes to art and culture. Picasso is a name that needs no introduction. His painting and style of portraying life are so eccentric yet intriguing for the audience. The painter’s work is still a crash course for new painters. People are yet digging into his life to know what their favorite painter is like in real life. His series ‘Lady in the Ponytail’ is one of the most iconic and famous series in the world.

In the spring of 1954, Picasso met 19-year-old Sylvette David (born 1934) on the Côte d’Azur. He became smitten with David and they struck up a friendship, with David posing for Picasso regularly. Picasso did more than sixty portraits of her in a variety of media including drawing, painting, and sculpture. David never posed nude for Picasso and they never slept together. It was the first time he had worked successfully with a model. Life magazine called this period his “Ponytail Period” after the ponytail that David always wore. It was also one of the most concentrated bodies of work inspired by a single woman that he ever executed.

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“One of my favourite portraits he did of me is the oil painting, Sylvette [1954] that was displayed [in the 2014 show, Sylvette, Sylvette, Sylvette: Picasso and the model] at the Kunsthalle Bremen. I love it because I really feel that he captured my spiritual side. Which I only truly connected with some years later at the age of 27. But then, I’ve always felt that artists are very close to God.”

It was only after Picasso’s passing in 1973 that Paris-born Sylvette David. Who now goes by her married name, Lydia Corbett – first discussed her remarkable encounters with the Spanish icon. Some 20 years after she became his muse and was immortalized in more than 40 Cubist works. Now aged 82, and a celebrated artist in her own right. Corbett has decided to detail her remarkable life story in a compelling memoir titled I Was Sylvette. “For the past five years or so, I have been recalling my memories to my daughter Isabel [Coulton], who has compiled the book for me from my home in Devon,” she notes.

Corbett also notes that Picasso could be playful with her, “like a little boy”, she says. “One day, he drew a spider on the floor, then forgot about it, saw it and jumped out of his skin. Another day, I had hiccups, and he jumped about with a knife to scare me and stop the hiccups, and it worked!”

Maybe with her writing a memoir, we’d know the real and unseen face of the famous painter as well.

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